I took some time to research the images that Ross introduced at posting.php?mode=reply&f=11&t=974#pr14262
, which Marco discussed further at posting.php?mode=reply&f=11&t=974#pr14261
, and also Phaeded. There is a rather large literature about them; I hope I have read a representative sample. This post has taken me many hours, but it is the nature of the subject, I can't help it. I assume people don't have the same access to English-language sources that I do, So I have typed out the most relevant parts. What I am trying to show is not only that these charioteer images, to the extent that they reflect the Phaedran charioteer, very likely reflect different parts of this very complicated myth, but also that at the time and place of the CY and PMB there was not any standard way of representing the subject, because they are from 1460s Florence, probably after 1463, and no one has found anything else in that century, despite searching hard. What there is in the next century--two works--is quite variable.
THE CAMEO BUST
I will start with the cameo on the portrait bust. The best reproduction I could find is in Frances Ames-Lewis's essay "Neoplatonism and the Visual Arts at the Time of Marsilio Ficino", in Marsilio Ficino: His Theology, His Philosophy, His Legacy
, ed. Allen and Rees, pp. 327-338.
The first discussion I could find of this cameo is by Rudolf Wittkower in "A Symbol of Platonic Love in a Portrait Bust by Donatello", Journal of the Warburg Institute
Vol. 1, No. 3, Jan., 1938, http://0-www.jstor.org.catalog.multcoli ... ble/750018
He takes it for granted that the sculptor was Donatello, an attribution that has generally been upheld since, and gives it a date of c. 1440, a date that has not been upheld. He sees it as inspired by an antique cameo (he calls it "medieval") of a "winged charioteer driving two horses and holding a whip". I assume he means the Nike. Wittkower analyzes the Donatello in terms of the Phaedrus, but in a different way than we have seen in this thread.
Donatello's bust, conceived in the years of this first enthusiasm for Plato, can only be interpreted in a Platonic sense. It is inspired by the passage in Plato's Phaedrus [footnote: translated by Leonardo Bruni in 1423] in which winged genii on cars driving two horses with whips are described as symbols of the soul. The madness of love, the best of the "Four Divine Madnesses", is explained by Socrates in terms of this image. We "described the passion of love in some sort of figurative manner ... and...we chanted a sportive and mythic hymn in meet and pious strain to the honour of your Lord and mine Phaedrus, Love, the guardian of beautiful boys". No doubt in Cosimo's circle the ancient cameo was interpreted in this Platonic sense and its use on the bust was meant to prove its bearer as one of the 'beautiful boys' guarded by the Platonic amor celeste. [Footnote: This interpretation may be confirmed by the fact that about 100 years later such a learned man as the engraver Giulio Bonasone used the same cameo for a representation of the triumphant Amore Divino (Bartsch XVI, No. 106). Quite logically, he adds to the horses the single horn of the unicorn and thus converts them into the symbol of chastity (Pl. 34c). He makes Cupid shoot his arrows from the heavenly realm to the Olympic gods on earth, who give themselves up to the luxurious Amore profano.]
Here is the Bonasone image: http://www.gonnelli.it/it/asta-0010-1/b ... amore-.asp
): The detail is at the top right. That is no Phaedran Charioteer!
I would observe here that the fact that one image is used by another artist 100 years later, who may have had no idea of the original reference, only shows one way of interpreting an image, not a definitive one. However it is vastly closer to the image on the cameo than that of the 17th century illustrations of the Phaedrus, which show one horse pulling downward and the other upward. That is not present at all on the Donatello. The only unruliness I see is that the horse on the left seems more eager to ascend upwards than the one on the right. That is the reverse of the 17th century unruliness. It might well merely be copied from the Nike and seen as aesthetically pleasing.
According to Wittkower, the image on the cameo is that of Love as the guardian of beautiful boys such as the one wearing it. That is what Bonasone is said to confirm. If you look on Google at other Bonasone images of Cupid, he invariably has a burst of light shining behind him. Apparently it shows that he is "celestial love"; one could interpret the burst of light on the tarot Love card, from the Rosenwald to the Tarot de Marseille, similarly, an interpretation favored also by the blindfold. There is no whipping in either representation; there is a staff on the arm of the cameo, but what it represents is unclear (I will offer an interpretation later; Bonasone does not even have reins, and in the Donatello the reins are loose.
In the above quote, Wittkower notes that the cameo is inspired by the Phaedrus, in which "winged genii on cars driving two horses with whips are described as symbols of the soul." Later writers have taken Wittkower as saying that besides being Eros the god, the charioteer also symbolizes the soul of the one protected or embodying celestial Love.
There are no whips in either the cameo or the Bonasone. And the cameo charioteer's reins are loose. In the context where Plato mentions a whip, it is the horses that are described as winged, not the charioteer. It is a different part of the myth (254). In the part of the myth describing a man possessed by Love, he indeed is described as starting to grow wings, wings he had lost in his descent to this world. Plato says (249, or http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/phaedrus.html
Thus far I have been speaking of the fourth and last kind of madness, which is imputed to him who, when he sees the beauty of earth, is transported with the recollection of the true beauty; he would like to fly away, but he cannot; he is like a bird fluttering and looking upward and careless of the world below; and he is therefore thought to be mad. .
This is the part that Wittkower is referring to when he speaks of the soul in the "fourth and best state of madness." But hee pointedly cannot ascend in his chariot at this point in life.
At the end of the myth, Plato returns to the image, in describing the life of the soul after death. When in life "the victory be won by the higher elements of mind guiding them into the ordered rule of the philosophical life" (256a-b), so that "the power of evil in the soul has been subjected", then "when life is over, with burden shed and wings recovered they stand victorious" (256b).
It is possible that the "they" here means the "lovers" as opposed to the horses. In that case the image on the cameo fits. But it is still only, in Plato, the lover who always exercises restraint who is victorious. The lover who occasionally, if he has too much to drink, lets the unruly horse have its way, does not make his way to heaven, but rather to a new incarnation. "When death comes they [the horses or the lovers] quit the body wingless indeed, yet eager to be winged" (256d), and so eventually they will gain the reward. So it is only the one fully possessed by divine Love, having vanquished the other, that can be the "Phaedran charioteer" on the cameo, and only after death can he ascend. In that way, as I have said before, the image on the cameo is inappropriate for a card in the middle section of the tarot.
Janson, in The Sculpture of Donatello
pp. 141-143), has more information on the bust. He says the Museo Nazionale gives no date of acquisition, so it must have been part of the old stock of the Grand-Ducal collections. There is no reference to it in the older guidebooks to the Uffizi, "but this is hardly surprising in view of the fact that it was not then attributed to Donatello" (p. 141). The first record of that is in "Donatello monographs of1887-1887" and attributed to Wilhelm Bode. Janson decides that the front horse in the picture-plane is indeed unruly, hence bad. However Janson does not seem to know that the horses are not ascending at the part of the myth in which the horse is called "unruly". When the soul ascends, it is pointedly said that the horse is no longer unruly, but fully subjugated. There is also the detail of the slack reins.
At this point Janson has an informative footnote:
The contrasting movement of the two horses does not occur on the Medici cameo or in any other classical biga [two-horsed chariot] representation, so far as I have been able to ascertain, and seems to be extremely rare in the Renaissance. I have found only one clear-cut example of it among all the medals and plaquettes of the later Quattrocento and the Cinquecento cited as showing the Platonic chariot (cf. Wittkower, loc. cit. n. 6), on the reverse of a medal by the learned Paduan, Giulio della Torre, inscribed AURIGA PLATONIS (specimens in Berlin and Turin; G. F. Hill, A Corpus of Italian Medals of the Renaissance..., vol. 2. London 1930, no. 565, p. 145, pl. 102). Hill indicates that della Torre's only dated medals were 1519 and 1529; he lived in Venice and Verona (Hill vol. 1 p. 143).
(Wittkower's note 6 mentions that "There are some Renaissance medals in existence which were probably struck after Donatello's bust".) Fortunately a local library had Hill's tome, both volumes. Here is the no. 565 obverse:
It is of course quite different from either the Donatello or its antique model. It shows the Phaedrean charioteer in this life, with his whip. One horse is clearly unruly, the other obedient, and he is disciplining it. As far as ruly vs. unruly, we are quite close to the Cary-Yale (the disciplining only comes at one specific point, when the horse is close to a beautiful love-object), less so to the 17th century Parisian Chariot cards. How many artists in Paris would have ever seen this medal, or the Cary-Yale card? Probably what they had was something like the Cary Sheet and the Catelin Geoffroy. A "standard" model is not necessary for the 17th century illustrators; the image is in the text itself (an earlier part of the myth from that on the tarot card, which also had no need of a "standard".
[Note: On Feb 15, 2015, I made a few changes in what I wrote above: earlier I had said there was a color difference between the two horses, indicated by different shading. Upon closer inspection, that seems to me problematic. It is the obedient vs. unruly aspect that is obvious.]
I was a bit surprised that Janson could find no classical models for the obedient vs. unruly horses, but I can believe it. The image I showed earlier of an Attic krater (on the cover of the Penguin Phaedrus, http://www.neebo.com/Content/CoverImage ... 442755.jpg
) has an obedient vs. unruly horse, but Attic kraters were not known in Western Europe until after the Greek War of Independence, in the 1820s. In the krater, it is the noble horse that turns toward the rider (listening to his words) as we know from the horse's color, while in the della Torre medal, it is the ignoble that does so (protesting the whip).
Janson goes on to say how after Wittkower the attribution to Donatello was contested by Milanese, Semrau, and then Lanyi; this last actually produced an argument, one amplified by Chastel (Proporzioni
III, 1950, pp. 73). Chastel said, in Janson's paraphrase, that "the Bruni translation of Phaedrus
had little general impact". It depends, of course, on what is meant by "general". It did have an impact on Cosimo and the humanists, as Hankins shows (see my reference in a previous post). Also, Janson's paraphrase of Chastel continues:
...it was really Ficino's Commentary of 1475 that brought the image of the Platonic image of the soul into fashion, as all the other known instances of it in the visual arts are at least twenty years later than the supposed date of our bust. If the Youth belongs to the age of Ficino, rather than of Bruni, its author is clearly not Donatello but perhaps the late Desiderio or Mino da Fiesole.
I will show later the error of this reasoning, using an essay by Frances Ames-Lewis.
I would dearly love to know what the "other known instances" are that Chastel means, as Janson does not say. One might be the tomb of the Cardinal of Portugal, 1460s, which Janson does not mention, perhaps because he doesn't see the "unruly horse" there. Did Chastel mention others? I cannot find Chastel's discussion of the cameo in the work to which Marco refers. Frances Ames-Lewis refers to p. 49 of the French edition, in connection to the tomb of the cardinal of Portugal; But I don't have access to it.
Janson replies to Chastel on this last point:
To cite the supposed chronological gap between the auriga Platonis medallion and all other instances of the same motif as evidence of the late date of the bust, is a risky procedure to say the least: not only can it be invalidated at any time by some inconvenient example hitherto overlooked, but the underlying assumption is a dangerous one. Iconographic studies are replete with examples of similar time intervals, apparent or real, between the first known appearance of a given motif and its adoption by other artists.
This point would also apply to the tomb of the Cardinal of Portugal, since it, too, is of the 1460s. However I thought Giulio della Torre was c. 1530 or so.
Janson, as an expert on Donatello, agrees with Wittkower's attribution. The classicizing features that Chastel says are too late for Donatello are already present in the bronze David. He assigns it to "the interval between the bronze David and the Paduan saints", which means around 1440. He ends by noting that something like the cameo on the portrait bust also shows up in a symbolic medallion on the back of Holofernes in Judith and Holofernes http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judith_and ... natello%29
), "to draw attention to his superbia
The style of this medallion, though obviously more agitated, is not very different from ours. Finally, the auriga shows considerable similarity with the two nude horsemen on the back of the Gattamelate (see Pl. 73b).
So it is clearly Donatello. (To me they just look like any other Renaissance horses, but what do I know!)
Recent authors (Luba Freedman, Frances Ames-Lewis) have shed important light on the inspiration for the cameo and thus its date. Here is Ames-Lewis on Freedman ("Neoplatonism and the Visual Arts", Marcilio Ficino: his Theology, his Philosophy, his Legacy
, ed. Allen et al, p. 336):
Luba Freedman has recently shown that the youth's features correspond exactly in size and position with the canon of proportions later proposed by Ficino, in De amore, for composing a human face of perfect beauty [Footnote: 'Donatello's Bust of a Youth and the Ficino Canon of Proportions', in Il ritratto e la memoria. Maritali, ed by A. Gentili, 3 vols, Rome, 1989, I, pp. 113-122]. This canon shows a shift from the proportional system described earlier int he century, which is based on modules and measurements, to one emphasizing congruity and harmony of the features.
Another point is the purpose of the idealized figure in bronze (p. 336f):
Very unusually for Florentine portrait sculpture, the bust is in prestigious and expensive bronze, which immediately suggests that it was a Medici commission. Unlike the sharp individualization typical of marble portrait-busts i( a genre then only recently reformulated in Florence), this bust is also highly idealized. In conjunction with the medallion imagery, this indicates that it is a memorial bust, a posthumous image rather than a portrait in the strict sense.
There has been much debate over the authorship, date and purpose of this bust. Given the use of Ficinian proportions, and the Platonic image with its associations both with Ficino's ideas in De voluptate and with Cosimo de' Medici's concern with the issue of the immortality of the soul as his own death loomed, it is in my view likely that it was commissioned by Cosimo himself. Freedman suggests that it is an ideal representation of Socrates' young friend Iocrates as an 'Athlete of virtue' [Ibid. p. 124), but a more pragmatic interpretation is that it may have been produced to commemorate Cosimo de' Medici's second son Giovanni, who died in 1463. At that date Donatello was the only bronze sculptor whom Cosimo could and would turn to, and although it has often been doubted, there is, in my view, no difficulty in accepting the attribution to Donatello.
If so, it is a funerary memorial and represents the soul leaving the body to ascend on high, appropriate for the cameo but inappropriate for the middle section of the tarot, which is concerned with life before death.
Ames-Lewis had previously related the cameo directly to Ficino's De Voluptate
, completed in 1457. Here is her quote from that work:
Plato calls wings those [powers] by which the soul flies back to the heights whence it had descended...The soul can fly back with two powers, the contemplative and the moral...Plato means these two powers to be the soul's wings. [Footnote: Arthur Field, Origins of the Platonic Academy, pp. 181-82...).
Such an analysis of the wings, I want to point out, is not in the Phaedrus (nor does Ames-Lewis claim it is). It is what Plato "means", i.e. it is an interpretation. In fact, I would venture to say that it is a Christianization of Plato.
The soul flying to the gods, if that of the Phaedrus. can only be that of a philosopher or a lover who practices total abstinence, first as iron discipline and later as joy. Giovanni de' Medici could not have measured up to these standards, if only because of having at least two illegitimate children (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giovanni_d ... %27_Medici
). Whether a soul that has loved and contemplated enough for another incarnation as a man gets wings, but ones not strong enough to ascend very far, Plato does not say. The Platonic tradition (e.g. Macrobius) would say that he does ascend, but then descends again.
In Christianity, the qualifications are less exacting, even if one only gets one incarnation and then goes through Purgatory (for which payment to the Church could remove years to be served); what is required to avoid hell is faith, virtue, and, for Ficino's version of the ascent, the yearning for God and the pleasure of contemplating higher truths. Love was an activity of the will rather than the mind. Tamara Albertini speaks of the essay De Voluptate
in her essay in the same volume as Ames-Lewis's essay:
Although the actual notion of the will is only vaguely outlined, one finds here a correlation between happiness and what can be generally rendered as 'rational desire'. For instance, the description of the pleasure of the mind (voluptas mentis) invoked there anticipates the later definition of the function of the will as that which finds its fulfillment in uniting itself with the object of its striving
I wish I had something more to the point, but I don't at present. In a footnote she quotes the Latin, fromOpera omnia
, Basel 1576, p. 1005 f. It is in that way that the image would be a consolation to Cosimo, both as a father and someone approaching his own death. It shows that even a sinner can ascend, if he is devoted to morality and contemplation. As father, husband, citizen, and devotee of the arts, Giovanni fit these criteria well.
Notice that we have now five interpretations:
(1) Celestial Eros, protector of beautiful boys: a mythological interpretation turned into philosophy by Plato.
(2) Christ as the celestial Eros, protecting virtuous and faithful souls (my Christianization of 1)
(3) The soul of the philosopher/lover in unswerving, prolonged abstention changed from hardship to joy; or of the simple lover in temporary passage until another incarnation (the Phaedrus, as I read it.)
(4) The virtuous and faithful soul in ascent, pulled upward by its contemplative and moral powers, in Ficino's elucidation. (from Ames-Lewis)
(5) The allusion to Giuliano de Medici and Cosimo himself, as securing their escape from hell and ascent to Heaven or Purgatory. (from Ames-Lewis)
These fit Murrin's threefold division of allegorical interpretations: moralistic, euhemerist, and philosophical.
All would seem to be valid. Ames-Lewis does not say that in adding 4 and 5, she is negating the two of Wittkower. (2 and 3 are my additions.)
THE TOMB OF THE CARDINAL OF PORTUGAL
Ross's other image was that of the tomb of the Cardinal of Portugal. I think we should look at that one, too, because it seems to add a couple more interpretations, without negating any of the preceding. These in turn will lead us back to the Donatello, for another pair as well. This image is from The Chapel of the Cardinal of Portugal
, by Frederick Hartt, Gino Corti, and Clarence Kennedy, 1964, whose account I will start with.
The tomb is for a young man who died at age 25, of legendary virginity; the early biographers say, without documentation (Hartt et al p. 40)
...that a physician recommended a remedy that implied the breaking of his vow of chastity, on account of which the outraged Cardinal ordered him to remove himself for ever from his presence.
References to virginity are seen in the tomb, notably a unicorn. (Given the unicorn, I think it likely that Bonasone used the tomb as his model rather than the Donatello cameo, as the handsome tomb is situated on a beautiful viewpoint, which would complement an outing in the hillside air, and the cameo was then exceedingly obscure.) Here we do have the lover-philosopher, the beloved being Christ. The two steeds, neither of which bend downward that I can see, are a just memorial to his firm moral will and devout contemplation.
In addition, there is another frieze on the left side of the end of the tomb's base (the one we are focusing on is on the right). It shows a man about to put a dagger into a bull.
It could be a representation of Mithras
slaying the bull, or, because he does not grab the muzzle as Mithras
is typically portrayed, Hercules slaying the river-god Archelous, who had taken the form of a bull; but Hercules did not use a dagger. Either way, Kennedy says (p. 83), it is "the virtue of the Cardinal triumphant over lust, personified by the bull".
In representations of Mithras
--one was in a cave off the Capitoline, Kennedy says, now in the Louvre (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mithraic_mysteries
, top image)--the moon, which might have been taken as the setting sun, was on one side and the sun on the other. In this context, the charioteer on the other side of the Mithras
-like sculpture is not Eros or the soul but the rising sun, Helios. The staff and the flames on the chariot are attributes of Helios, Kennedy says, even if there are only two horses instead of four and Helios was not shown as winged (pp. 84-85). On the other hand, Eros did have wings and did drive a two-horsed chariot. So Wittkower's suggestion, "as signifying the Platonic image of the soul, and the placing of the sitter under the protection of heavenly Eros" also applies. Moreover, so does the Charioteer of the Phaedrus, in relation to which, says Kennedy, Faratti has suggested that the sculptor used Donatello's cameo as a model (p. 85).
Likewise, we can go back to the cameo with its staff. Could it be a staff of Helios as well? I don't know. I don't even know which came first (the account books for the tomb go to 1469).
Kennedy sees one of the horses in the tomb sculpture as unruly, he does not say which (p. 85). However it seems to me that such an interpretation, given whose tomb it is, goes directly against the theme of the Cardinal's virginity. His virginal and philosophic life would have been seen as qualifying for Plato's winged flight to the gods after death, with the unruly horse fully subjugated. In the Christianization of this theme, the Cardinal's life is one predicted by this tomb as heaven-bent, his few sins gladly forgiven.
It seems to me that the flames on the chariot could also be those of love. Since we are in a Christian context, we have have an equivalence Eros = Helios = Christ, and the risen Christ as the rising sun after the death of the physical body at the crucifixion. Such an equivalence certainly would seem to apply to the cameo on the Christ child in another image shown on this thread, a prefiguration of his fate.
Is it extravagant to suggest so many interpretations? Here I quote Kennedy:
Theologians like the Cardinal or the Bishop welcomed all possible symbolic meanings that might be read into such a scene, and would not feel it necessary that they should be consistent.
The Bishop is the older companion who accompanied him from Portugal. And further (pp. 85-86):
That neither figure corresponds exactly to any one of the various interpretations that may be suggested for it is undoubtedly due to the fact that no Quattrocento sculptor confined his search for prototypes to a single source, but took details of his iconography from diverse places; and there was no one with enough archaeological knowledge in his time to point out to him his inconsistencies.
It might also be that no one cared about the inconsistencies; they only added to the mystery and the multiplicity of interpretations.
Ames-Lewis sees one of the horses on the tomb as pulling "upward" and the other "downward". She does not indicate what the significance is, probably assuming that it is obvious that the one pointing downward is the one most attached to the senses. What I see is one pointing upwards and one pointing straight ahead. It seems to me that the one pulling upwards might be the formerly unruly one, as the one yearning for divine Voluptate
and filled with divine love. Or again, the artist has simply copied the antique Nike.
About the relationship of the Cardinal, or the Bishop who executed the tomb, to the Medici, she says:
No evidence has been found of a direct association in Florence in the early to mid-1460s between either the Cardinal of Portugal or Bishop Afonso and the Medici circle, although it seems likely that a member of the Portuguese royal family who was also a prince of the church would have been welcomed to the Palazzo Medici. But whether or not Bishop Afonso was in touch with Ficino, he was certainly capable of appropriating the 'chariot of the soul' image with full appreciation of its Platonic significance.
If the Cardinal met the Medici, it would not have been often. He was gravely ill when he got to Florence, and he died two months later (arriving in June 1459, per notes 11 and 12 on p. 39 of Hartt et al) and dying in August). However the Bishop was still there, building the tomb; and the two images do look amazingly similar.
The point remains that the setting for the tomb image was clearly that of a memorial for a person who has died and is ascending to Heaven; the Donatello cameo probably was the same, allowing for Purgatory. In neither case is the image appropriate for the middle section of the tarot. Nor would the designer of the CY or PMB known about it, much less as a "standard" representation of the Phaedrus charioteer.
This is not to say that these Florentine images are irrelevant for the Florentine tarot. They may be relevant to the BAR World card. Hopefully I'll have another post on that, tying it and the BAR Chariot to another possibly Ficino-inspired Donatello and a couple of other Ficino-inspired charioteers.
P. S. ON THE DARKNESS OF THE HORSE
On the issue of "black" as applied to the unruly horse in the Phaedrus, I have looked at Ficino's translation , which might have influenced post-1475 illustrations of the unruly horse, or earlier if they were from the circle around Ficino and the Medici (in Allen, Marsilio Ficino Commentaries on Plato vol. 1: Phaedrus and Ion, p. 28)Unfortunately I have not found Bruni's 1424-1427 version.) Ficino has for the unruly horse "fusco colore", which Allen translates as "swarthy in color". At http://www.wordsense.eu/fusco/ I see "from fuscus ("dark, swarthy, dusky" and its being considered a verb, with a comparable definition). I don't know whether a dark red horse could be called "fusco" or not. I suspect the exact color is unspecified. However red would be more appropriate to a visual expression of the allegory, because it is the horse that experiences lust, i.e. vulgar love, and therefore most likely the horse that experiences celestial love as well. Red connotes base passions (lust, anger) as well as lofty ones (the idealized love for which the rose is a time-honored symbol).
P.P.S. That was an intriguing PS, Phaeded.