Re: Visconti marriage & betrothal commemorations

#41
Phaeded wrote:Ross,
Straw man’s argument and you know it. Unless I’ve missed something there is not a single scrap of explicit evidence as to why anyone actually commissioned a triumph deck; Giusti, the only reference to actually state such a deck was commissioned (again, unless I’ve missed something), merely provides the name of the city in which it was made.
Hello Phaeded,
what you write deeply saddens me. You sometimes seem to have some awareness of the fact that your knowledge of the available evidence is incomplete, but more often you seem to lose touch with the situation and write things like the first sentence in this post or that "it is impossible to not think" what you think, or that your own fantasies are "not unreasonable". We are very lucky to have a chance to discuss here our hobby with serious scholars like Ross. I think we should try to speak to them with some respect, so that they don't lose their interest in helping us understand more of tarot history.

Giusto Giusti clearly states that the Tarot deck was a personal gift (“donai”) from him to Malatesta. He personally commissioned the deck and paid for it.
Venerdì a di 16 settembre donai al magnifico signore messer Gismondo un paio di naibi a trionfi, che io avevo fatto fare a posta a Fiorenza con l’armi sua, belli, che mi costaro ducati quattro e mezzo. (Friday 16 September, I donated to the magnificent lord sir Gismondo, a pack of triumph cards, that I had made expressly in Florence, with his arms, and beautifully done, which cost me four and a half ducats.)
I am sorry that to you Depaulis' discovery “merely provides the name of the city in which [the deck] was made”. I hope that, if you take the time to carefully read this sentence again, you will be able to get a lot more information out of it. If you have trouble reading Italian, I will be happy to help.

Luckily, Ross and other scholars have also found other evidence as to why people commissioned card decks. Apparently, they were commissioned for the personal use of the commissioner or as gifts (but no case I can think of can be interpreted as a marriage gift). Here are some examples:
* Filippo Maria's 16 Gods deck (1425 ca) which the duke invented and comissioned to Marziano and Michelino. (The documents have been translated from Latin by Ross). A game that would “be enjoyable, and ... fitted to the serious man wearied of virtue ... and ... conducive to happiness”. Filippo Maria kept this game for himself (Marcello found it among "the riches and splendours of the Duke" in 1449). His personal passion for card games is documented by Decembrio.
* This 1442 note in which Leonello D'Este pays for a trionfi deck made “for his own use”.
* This other 1442 note in which a deck is bought for Leonello's young brothers (9 and 11 years old).
* This 1452 letter (brought to our attention by Ross) in which the secretary of Francesco Sforza commisions a trionfi deck with the ducal coat of arms as a present for Sigismondo Malatesta (who had written to Bianca Maria asking for such a deck).

Thanks to trionfi.com and google, this information is accessible to everyone. Others have done the hard work for us, I feel grateful to them. If you are not interested enough in the subject to do a google search, you could politely ask for help, instead of writing that “there is not a single scrap of explicit evidence” about something.

The Fiorino of FMV (Filippo Maria Visconti)

#42
I replay to the question regard the date of realization of the fiorino of FMV.
The date of first issue is 1442, stands in all of numismatics.

In my book Storia dei Tarocchi (Mondadori, Milano 2010) I haven't pointed out the mismatch between the size of the coin current use and imprinted on the cards of the Tarot deck of FMV.
It would have been better if I had added a note

However, on this subject, I checked me in his time with prof. Michael Dummett. The only logical answer, on which we agreed fully, is as follows: for the Tarot cards was made a new matrix for print, slightly larger than the current coin.
The reasons might be different, but the more plausible it seemed probably wanted to avoid dumping workshops a mint coinage that could get into the hands of counterfeiters.

Giordano Berti

Re: Visconti marriage & betrothal commemorations

#43
Thanks Marco, I was going to bring up the same references, and a few others. The laconic statement "per suo uxo" may not be very satisfying for some people as enough reason to commission a deck of expensive cards, but that is exactly what it is. They were commissioned by people with lots of money to make gorgeous decks of playing cards to... play cards with (and impress friends and guests in the process).

Francesco Simonetta's letter of 1452, on behalf of Francesco Sforza, also calls the deck "uno paro de carte da triumpho per zugare" - which is a fairly literal name that could be translated "a deck of triumph cards for playing" or, less literally, the name "triumph playing cards" (by analogy with "carte da gioco"). So this commission actually says explicitly what it was for.

Not also that it does not describe anything special about the triumph cards except that they are to contain Malatesta's arms, and of, course, to be done as sumptuously as possible. This was their custom feature, beyond their normal luxury for a man of his status. No more directions for the artist were needed, because the triumph deck was a standard kind of cards, which the artist knew how to make.

Giusto Giusti's record of his commission also simply states that he had Malatesta's arms painted on the deck - we should likewise assume that it was therefore in all other respects - subjects and number of trumps - a standard triumph deck.

The same kind of language can be noted in the February 10 Este note, which mentions four suits and "tutte le figure" - "all the figures". It doesn't say "some figures", or "many figures", but THE figures - all THE figures of a normal triumph deck. It was a standard thing with that name, not a new creation with a different conception of subjects or number of subjects.

In 1477, the long contract for a commission of playing cards and triumph cards between Roberto Blanchelli and Pietro Bonozzi, cardmaker in Bologna, asks for cards and triumphs "per zugare", without asking for anything special about the number and subjects of the trumps. It was a standard product. There were two kinds of cards - normal playing cards, and triumph playing cards.
http://trionfi.com/0/e/00/

In other cases, not triumph cards, one of the earliest records of playing cards, in France, 1392, says that the three decks were made for the King (Charles VI of France) "pour son ebattement" - for his entertainment or recreation. Besides being ornate and gilded, no other description is given - they were just normal decks of cards, albeit made for a king.

Fernando de la Torre's instructions for a deck to be made for Mercia Enriquez of Mendoza, around 1450, had only one trump, an Emperor, and in other respects it was a normal Spanish suited deck, although it had poetic inscriptions on the pips and the court cards were to represent specific characters. Despite its uniqueness and the details of its contents, it too had only one purpose - "passatiempo" - a pastime.

In sum, cards were for playing, recreation, fun, a pastime; they weren't works of monumental propaganda, even where the owner proudly displayed heraldry on them. They were for intimate occasions, often of mixed sex.

In all of the commissions for painted or printed decks, or in orders to purchase some (such as Sforza's December 1450 request or Galeazzo Sforza's 1475 one), what is requested is "triumphs". The artist and the purchaser knew what was being referred to, there was no need for further detail. It was a standard thing, and the only changes sometimes made were decorative, such as the addition of arms. The notion that there is a now-lost shadow correspondence for all of these commissions which details an entirely new set of subjects with explicit descriptions of what they were, is completely unwarranted and unnecessary. Giusto probably commissioned the deck personally in Florence, simply by asking the artist and perhaps making a down payment (hence an oral contract, or one with a receipt of down payment), or he sent a letter to the right people with a form similar to Francesco Sforza's - "please make me a triumph deck as luxuriously as possible, with Sigismondo Malatesta's arms in the appropriate places (which may have been specified)." Beyond the name "triumph cards", and the person for whom the custom deck was to be made, nothing more need be specified. The artist knew what a deck of triumph cards was supposed to contain.
Image

Re: Visconti marriage & betrothal commemorations

#44
Marco wrote:
We are very lucky to have a chance to discuss here our hobby with serious scholars like Ross. I think we should try to speak to them with some respect, so that they don't lose their interest in helping us understand more of tarot history.
Marco,
No disrespect was intended beyond questioning Ross’s question as unhelpful (and in light of the scorn that gets heaped upon Huck I don’t think my statement was disrespectful, but point taken – will try to disagree agreeably). Ross came back to my pointing out that there is no record of “why” anyone commissioned a deck by stating they were simply for card playing and thus no why was needed (more on that in response to Ross below). At all events I do value Ross’s contributions and have even recently asked him to post more often: viewtopic.php?f=12&t=919
Marco wrote:
* This 1442 note in which Leonello D'Este pays for a trionfi deck made “for his own use”.
* This other 1442 note in which a deck is bought for Leonello's young brothers (9 and 11 years old).
* This 1452 letter (brought to our attention by Ross) in which the secretary of Francesco Sforza commisions a trionfi deck with the ducal coat of arms as a present for Sigismondo Malatesta (who had written to Bianca Maria asking for such a deck).
All of these decks (Marziano’s was not a trionfi deck) are in the context of condottiere which I addressed in my response to Ross:
Malatesta’s request [to Bianca] for triumph cards close to the date most propose for the PMB, c. 1451, is only odd in that he has taken the commissioning into his own hands (assuming the requested deck is for himself). The basic fact about the earliest trionfi - the Anghiari reference and surviving CY and PMB decks (too many trumps missing from the Brambilla to make conclusive statements about that deck) is that they are connected to condottiere.
If the “why trionfi” (instead of just regular playing cards) is deemed unworthy of a question, the question of “why trionfi for condottiere” is inescapable.

Phaeded

Re: Visconti marriage & betrothal commemorations

#45
Ross,
Please see my response to Marco above for the context of the following:
Ross wrote:
Giusto Giusti's record of his commission also simply states that he had Malatesta's arms painted on the deck - we should likewise assume that it was therefore in all other respects - subjects and number of trumps - a standard triumph deck…. The artist and the purchaser knew what was being referred to, there was no need for further detail. It was a standard thing, and the only changes sometimes made were decorative, such as the addition of arms.
Agree that Giusti commissioned a standard deck embellished with Malatesta’s arms, but what was a standard trionfi deck being made in Florence in 1440 (there is no evidence they were made elsewhere until after 1440)?

Please correct me if I’m putting words in your mouth here, but I believe your position is that almost all trionfi decks follow the PMB subjects (with only has the Devil and Tower missing) and that this was the ur-tarot from the very beginning, including Giusti’’s deck, originally created no earlier than 1437, correct? But that is based on the unsettled business of the date of the CY deck which I believe you lean towards a dating of 1468+ and the Bona/Galeazzo marriage (or some event thereafter).

If it were from 1441, however, then that leaves only 13 months from the September 1440 date of Giusti’s reference to the marriage date of Bianca/Sforza in October 1441, hardly time for a complete reconceptualization, design and execution. The Anghiari and CY decks would have likely been quite similar, with the replacement of belli being the main difference per your own statement, “the only changes sometimes made were decorative, such as the addition of arms” (all there was time for). If you think the hypothetical reconstruction of the Anghiari deck is a complete waste of time, fine, but what then of the date of the CY deck and the circumstantial evidence pointing to other 14 trump decks? None of the following has an interpretation unanimously agreedd to:

1. The Date of the CY deck. There are at least these 7 date-related points that suport a 1441 date or argue strongly against Bona of Savoy being involved:
a. The recurring use of the Balzo hairstyle which was featured in the 1430s and 1440s as revealed in comparative works of art - especially in the Lancelot of the Lake that closely resembles the CY.
b. The absence of Bona’s fleur-di-lys as her principal belli – also adopted by Galeazzo - as revealed in works of art commissioned by him.
c. Why is the Adriatic (what other sea would it be) in the World card for Bona and Galeazzo? Sforza’s Marche of Ancona and the his dowry of Cremona’s implication of fending off Venice perfectly expolains why the Adriatic was included. Otherise Milan is nowhere near the sea.
d. Why would Bona upon the Chariot/”Charity” hold out a Visconti coin? Bianca would have done that to Sforza as his dowry.
e. Pisanello’s medals of c.1441, contemporary with the wedding date for the CY, for Filippo Visconti and Sforza indicate the same concern with Venice (on the reverse of Filippo’s medal) and the dowry to Sforza (both Cremona is named on his medal’s obverse as well as the Latinized name of Visconti)
f. The bequeathal of the name Visconti to Sforza indicates him as a successor (as the forged will produced by his chancellery would as well) and why the red/white flag on the Lovers’ tent is Pavia, the first city Sforza quickly conquered when employed by the Ambrosian Republic. If Savoy’s flag, where else does Galeazzo use it?
g. Galleazzo’s wedding to Bona occurred first in France (with the former absent) in front of the King and Queen of France; a second ceremony was performed in from of the Milan Duomo. Galeazzo drew up plans to have all of this painted - where is any of that in the CY? (Lubkin, A Renaissance Court: Milan under Galleazzo Maria Sforza, 1994: 49)

2. The 1457 Ferrara payment for a 70 card deck to the painter Gerardo di Andrea da Vicenza– that would posit a 14 trump series – although you translate as 70 your own theory requires you to dismiss this a “scribal error”, correct? That’s a bit of a too convenient way of dispensing with inconvenient evidence. The simpler solution is not to deny the evidence but offer an explanation: a 70 card deck, perhaps a vestige of the Anghiari ur-tarot, was being supplanted by the 78 PMB model by the end of the 1450s but were still being made in a city that had previously made 70 card decks…

3. The unexplained 14 painted images painted for Bianca, also in Ferrara like Gerado’s 70 card deck, fall in that same 13 month window between Giusti’s joural of September 1440 and the October 1441 wedding of Bianca. If the trionfi were novel then it would not be unusual for them to neither be named as such (the name had not become common enough yet and the triumph in question, Anghiari, was certainly not Ferrara’s) nor for them to be considered as a novel work of art of contemplation on their own terms; we do it all the time here. I don’t disagree with the primary usefulness of tarot cards for playing but when something is novel and added to an existing thing (regular playing cards) they can be considered out of context. Admittedly the 14 painted cards are circumstantial evidence for a 70 card ur-tarot decks for c.1440, but there is zero evidence for any kind of 78 card deck before c.1451.
Ross wrote:
In sum, cards were for playing, recreation, fun, a pastime; they weren't works of monumental propaganda, even where the owner proudly displayed heraldry on them. They were for intimate occasions, often of mixed sex.
A work of art hardly need be monumental for it to work as effective propaganda. More Northern Italians would have been more likely to see one of the several (hundreds?) decks of cards than say a triumphal arch in Milan (especially when it was plague-ridden in 1451; re. the PMB). And for the most mobile of all segments of society – condottiere and their armies – cards were the perfect portable object for advertising oneself or one’s all-important political alliances.

Phaeded

Re: Visconti marriage & betrothal commemorations

#46
Girolomo Berti wrote
I replay to the question regard the date of realization of the fiorino of FMV.
The date of first issue is 1442, stands in all of numismatics.

In my book Storia dei Tarocchi (Mondadori, Milano 2010) I haven't pointed out the mismatch between the size of the coin current use and imprinted on the cards of the Tarot deck of FMV.
It would have been better if I had added a note

However, on this subject, I checked me in his time with prof. Michael Dummett. The only logical answer, on which we agreed fully, is as follows: for the Tarot cards was made a new matrix for print, slightly larger than the current coin.
The reasons might be different, but the more plausible it seemed probably wanted to avoid dumping workshops a mint coinage that could get into the hands of counterfeiters.
The mismatch is not only in size but in the composition itself, the placement of limbs, etc. However your explanation in terms of protection against counterfeiters applies to these differences as well. Thank you very much. That thought hadn't occurred to me.

I remembered where I found the statement that the coins were first made in 1436: Tolfo, at http://www.storiadimilano.it/Arte/carte_gioco.htm, speaking of the Brera-Brambilla:
Sul Due di Denari, accanto allo scudo col Biscione compare la scritta Dux Mediolani et Comes e Filippus Maria Anglus. I semi di Denari esibiscono il recto e il verso delle nuova moneta coniata da Filippo Maria nel 1436, col cavallo impennato.
Which I understand as:
On the Two of Coins, close to the shield with the Viper, appears the writing Dux Mediolani et Comes and Filippus Maria Anglus. The suit-cards of Coins exhibit the recto and verso of the new coin coined by Filippo Maria in 1436, with the rearing horse.
She does not give a reference. I do not know how seriously to take this claim. The site "Storia di Milano" seems to be a reputable website. On the other hand, she counts 13 triumphs in the CY, as though the pictures she shows of the Scapini "Mago" and the "Ruoto del Distino" were genuine 15th century cards. She states that the CY was a marriage gift to Maria of Savoy (even though the coins in this deck look identical to those in the Brera-Brambilla!) and makes other controversial statements without any indication of doubt.

When I look for the coin online, I can't find any dating at all, other than in the reign of Filippo Maria. But I am searching in English. Naturally I was pleased to hear of your 1442 dating of the coin. But given the difficulty of dating the CY, it would help if you had a good reference, and if possible also a picture, to exclude the possibility that there were two mintings, one in 1436 and another, from a new mold, in 1442.

Perhaps I should say more about the difficulty in dating the two decks. (I do not anticipate Berti commenting on this part, although he may if he chooses.) The CY is sometimes said to be no earlier than 1441 due to the young age of the artist, Bonifacio Bembo. I notice that Bandera, 1991, is careful not to attribute any cards to Bonifacio, but rather to the "Bembo workshop." Welch, in the 1996 Dictionary of Art entry on Bembo (quoted earlier in this thread), says
At least nine artists with the name Bembo were active in Cremona between 1425 and the end of the 16th century. The two best known, (1) Bonifacio Bembo and (2) Benedetto Bembo, were the sons of Giovanni Bembo (fl 1425–49), a master who worked both in his home town and in Brescia.
The full entry is cited earlier in this thread. Bandera notes resemblances between the Brera-Brambilla and the Monza frescoes of the Zavatarri, which she dates to 1445. However Roettgen (Italian Frescoes: The Early Renaissance, p. 167) points out that these frescoes were done over the course of several years, perhaps starting as early as 1430. Consistent with an earlier date, Bandera observes resemblances to Gentile da Fabriano, work of 1418-1419, and Michelino da Besozzo. She also suggests that Lombard delegates to Basle may have carried the style exhibited in the Brambrilla to that city in 1431. But she ends up dating the Brera-Brambilla to 1442-1443, observing (p. 34),
The closest similarities can be found in the miniature of the Diurnale, now in the Civic Library of La Mirandola, carried out in Cremona in 1442, and unanimously attributed to the Bembo workshop (56), and in the drawings of the knightly romance the Historia di Lancelloto del Lago (57), written in Cremona in 1446. Boskovitz, in an undisputed study (58) has confirmed the romance illustrations to be the work of the Bembo workshop, corraborating the traditional attribution (59), which, however, Algeri in 1981 (60) had ascribed to Francesco Zavatarri. (Footnotes: 56. Ferrari, in Arte Lombardi..., 1958, p. 83. 57. Firenze, Biblioteca Nationale cod. pal. 556. 58. Boskovitz, 1988, p. 176. 59. Ferrari, in Arte Lombarda..., 1958, p. 84. 60. Algeri, 1981, pp. 84-85.)
She then cites a document of Oct. 12, 1444, (of which I had not been familiar!) showing Bonifacio Bembo as already having made a name for himself as a painter; in the document, summoning him to the inauguration of the work of a sculptor, he is "given the title of painter" (Bandera's words). Then she discusses the CY, but merely relates it to the frescoes at Monza.
So while Bandera dates the Brambilla to 1442-1443, it could possibly have been a year or two earlier, at least, and there are influences from much earlier. Perhaps the catalog of the Brera's upcoming exhibit of this deck in Milan will have more to say. In the meantime, it would be a big help to thoroughly document the earliest date of Filippo's coin.

Re: Visconti marriage & betrothal commemorations

#47
Phaeded wrote:Marziano’s was not a trionfi deck
Hello Phaeded, I see you keep stating your points of view as universal truths. I think it's a pity. I was surprised when in another thread you commented the qualifications with which scholars present their opinions taking them as a symptom of unreliability: I take those qualifications as evidence of Prudence and Humbleness (to keep in theme with that other thread).

In his 1449 letter, Jacopo Antonio Marcello referred to Marziano and Filippo Maria's deck as a triumph deck: “cognovi illustrissimum illum Mediolani Principem novum quoddam et exquisitum triumphorum genus ... excogitasse”, in Ross' translation: “I was aware that the most distinguished, illustrious Prince of Milan had thought out a certain new and exquisite sort of triumphs”. From this passage, I get that in 1449 that deck was seen as a trionfi deck.
If your opinion is different from Marcello's, you should be so kind to explain your definition of what a “trionfi deck” was and why Marziano's deck does not fit with it.
If you haven't read Marcello's letter, please do some research yourself and/or try to qualify your statements: “I don't know much about Marziano's deck and I don't have time to read the available documents, but I think that possibly it was not a trionfi deck”.

Re: Visconti marriage & betrothal commemorations

#48
marco wrote:
Phaeded wrote:Marziano’s was not a trionfi deck
In his 1449 letter, Jacopo Antonio Marcello referred to Marziano and Filippo Maria's deck as a triumph deck: “cognovi illustrissimum illum Mediolani Principem novum quoddam et exquisitum triumphorum genus ... excogitasse”, in Ross' translation: “I was aware that the most distinguished, illustrious Prince of Milan had thought out a certain new and exquisite sort of triumphs”. From this passage, I get that in 1449 that deck was seen as a trionfi deck.
If your opinion is different from Marcello's, you should be so kind to explain your definition of what a “trionfi deck” was and why Marziano's deck does not fit with it.
If you haven't read Marcello's letter, please do some research yourself and/or try to qualify your statements: “I don't know much about Marziano's deck and I don't have time to read the available documents, but I think that possibly it was not a trionfi deck”.
Marco,
Short answer - I rely on Pratesi's summary opinion on this point: "Most authors have concluded, however, that the mentioned pack is so different from known ones, that hardly any tarot pack could be meant" (The Playing-Card, Vol. XVIII, No. 1 and 2, 1989: 28-38). http://trionfi.com/earliest-tarot-pack I thought Pratesi's work was well-known on this board and thus my short statement about Marziano's deck (footnoting everything I say on a blog seems a bit unwarranted unless it is crucial to the bigger point being made).

I own and have read and reread King's fundamental work on Marcello, read Pratesi’s studies of the Marziano deck, found the reference in Kirsch where these cards were likely found (along with the Visconti Hours) before getting into Marcello's hands, and even made the pilgrimage to Marcello’s beloved Monselice last spring - you disagree with my interpretation of the evidence, fine, but please hold off on your pedantic comments suggesting I haven’t done my own due diligence.

Marcello saw hand-painted cards, knew the name "trionfi" (most likely because his good friend Sforza possessed them since 1440) and called them as such; that doesn’t make them trionfi – it makes them hand-painted cards. That they were not the trionfi Sforza possessed is underscored by Marcello’s use of “new”, “sort of triumphs” and “invention.”

Why Marziano’s deck is not Trionfi:
1. Trionfi have coins/batons/cups/swords for suits – Marziano has bird suits.
2. All of Marziano’s trumps feature gods/heroes for subjects – trionfi do not.
3. Trionfi has either 14 (up for debate) or 22 cards – Marziano has 16 [and yes, I’m aware Huck posits 16 for the PMB that is an extreme minority opinion]

If the suits, trump subjects and number of cards in the decks were all completely different then the only thing Marziano’s deck has in common with trionfi, to say it again, is that they are both painted cards.

It seems to me you have decided to take a personal issue with me as a researcher and become combative for combativeness’s sake – that is ironically detracting from research being discussed here. Can we please stick to substantive issues going forward instead of who I am?

Phaeded

PS to quote mjhurst from a post on on 04 Apr 2012, 14:08 on this board:
Marziano's 16-Heroes deck is not a Tarot deck and was not used to play a Tarot game. This fact is not subtle, complicated, obscure, inferential, speculative, or otherwise debateable -- we have a description of the deck and the game. It's not Tarot.
viewtopic.php?f=11&t=788

Trionfi: Triumphs, Trumps, and Tarot

#49
Phaeded wrote:I rely on Pratesi's summary opinion on this point: "Most authors have concluded, however, that the mentioned pack is so different from known ones, that hardly any tarot pack could be meant" (The Playing-Card, Vol. XVIII, No. 1 and 2, 1989: 28-38). http://trionfi.com/earliest-tarot-pack
...

Marcello saw hand-painted cards, knew the name "trionfi" (most likely because his good friend Sforza possessed them since 1440) and called them as such; that doesn’t make them trionfi – it makes them hand-painted cards. That they were not the trionfi Sforza possessed is underscored by Marcello’s use of “new”, “sort of triumphs” and “invention.”
That's not quite it. Marco is correct that the 16 Heroes deck (Sexdecim Heroum) was a trionfi deck, and Phaeded is correct that it was not a Tarot deck. (He is, of course, mistaken when he uses the terms "trionfi" and "Tarot" interchangeably.]

The 16 Heroes deck was a trionfi deck but it was not a Tarot deck.

As anyone who has ever looked something up in the dictionary knows, a given word can mean different things when used in different ways. This is a crucial point to understand, both for interpreting obscure and/or ambiguous words in old documents and for interpreting obscure and/or ambiguous images in old compositions. Pratesi addressed this in a different essay, ON TRUMPS, TRIUMPHS, AND TAROTS.

The words trionfo or trionfi can refer to victory in battle, a pageant celebrating the victory or the victorious general, a work of art or architecture, trump cards, Tarot trump cards, entire decks which contain trump cards, and so on. Also, words tend to mean what a particular writer uses them to mean. Novel meaning may be creative, metaphorical, sloppy or loose, or simply the best word that comes to mind at the moment. The 16 Heroes deck was a trionfi deck because 1) Marcello used that word to describe it and 2) it had a set of permanent trump cards. It was not a Tarot deck because it had a wholly different structure, with different suits and trumps and subject matter than archetypal decks and their offshoots. It was not a Tarot deck because it had virtually none of the defining characteristics of the large family of inter-related games that Dummett and McLeod catalog and detail.

As an aside, the larger issue here is that context counts and every word or image is at least potentially polysemous. Taking details out of context, and mindlessly or even perversely distorting them is about as productive as crossword puzzles or Sudoku. It's a pastime; some find it amusing; but it hardly qualifies as iconographic "research". As an example, the Hanged Man card can only be meaningfully interpreted in the context of Tarot. In that context, the figure was named the Traitor, which is explained by historical practices of 14th and 15th-century Italy. In that context, the figure appears in a complex allegorical composition which outlines the life of man in a rise-and-fall narrative: the Traitor follows great successes (Love and Chariot) and reversals (Time and Fortune), and precedes Death. In this context, the mysterious Hanged Man is no mystery at all. He symbolizes the most archetypal, feared, and condemned downfall of great men, betrayal.

But to see that requires context.

Best regards,
Michael

P.S. Getting back to the point of Marco's post, he is correct in citing Marcello's letter and Marziano's text as an example of direct evidence concerning the reasons why card games were commissioned. Whether the Decker-Kaplan hypothesis about the Cary-Yale deck is correct or not, Ross is also correct to point out that in the absence of more direct evidence it remains speculative. Some are persuaded by the arguments, others are not. It is not bogus in any way (and certainly not a straw-man argument) to remind people of that. It may be taken as fact for casual conversation, just as a particular dating might be, but these are conclusions rather than facts.
We are either dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants, or we are just dwarfs.

Re: Trionfi: Triumphs, Trumps, and Tarot

#50
mjhurst wrote:[Pratesi addressed this in a different essay, ON TRUMPS, TRIUMPHS, AND TAROTS.

The words trionfo or trionfi can refer to victory in battle, a pageant celebrating the victory or the victorious general, a work of art or architecture, trump cards, Tarot trump cards, entire decks which contain trump cards, and so on. Also, words tend to mean what a particular writer uses them to mean. Novel meaning may be creative, metaphorical, sloppy or loose, or simply the best word that comes to mind at the moment. The 16 Heroes deck was a trionfi deck because 1) Marcello used that word to describe it and 2) it had a set of permanent trump cards. It was not a Tarot deck because it had a wholly different structure, with different suits and trumps and subject matter than archetypal decks and their offshoots. It was not a Tarot deck because it had virtually none of the defining characteristics of the large family of inter-related games that Dummett and McLeod catalog and detail.

As an aside, the larger issue here is that context counts and every word or image is at least potentially polysemous.
Michael,
Thank you for the Pratesi link - I've read all of his articles but glossed over that one; edifying to have reread it. I agree with you that using Pratesi's definitions of trionfi and Tarot is extremely helpful given the plethora of tarot-related material that can be more usefully classified as "trionfi." However there was a context for the Marziano deck in the present discussion, on the commissioning of trionfi - that term used by myself, as you pointed out, as synonymous with tarot:
Marco wrote:
Here are some examples:
* Filippo Maria's 16 Gods deck (1425 ca) which the duke invented and comissioned to Marziano and Michelino. (The documents have been translated from Latin by Ross). A game that would “be enjoyable, and ... fitted to the serious man wearied of virtue ... and ... conducive to happiness”. Filippo Maria kept this game for himself (Marcello found it among "the riches and splendours of the Duke" in 1449). His personal passion for card games is documented by Decembrio.
* This 1442 note in which Leonello D'Este pays for a trionfi deck made “for his own use”.
* This other 1442 note in which a deck is bought for Leonello's young brothers (9 and 11 years old).
* This 1452 letter (brought to our attention by Ross) in which the secretary of Francesco Sforza commisions a trionfi deck with the ducal coat of arms as a present for Sigismondo Malatesta (who had written to Bianca Maria asking for such a deck).


The subject was not the commissioning of tarot-like objects (trionfi) but tarot - if that distinction was muddled by myself in using the term trionfi (which I assumed everyone here had been using synonymously - too many examples of that to cite) I would then clarify my primary thesis in this thread by restating it as: "The basic fact about the earliest [strikeout 'trionfi'] Tarot- the Anghiari reference and surviving CY and PMB decks (too many trumps missing from the Brambilla to make conclusive statements about that deck) is that they are connected to condottiere."

Put more succinctly in this question, that has disappointly not engendered more discussion on its own: why are all of the earliest decks and references to tarot for condottiere?

Phaeded

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