How eccentric is the Sola-Busca?

#1
In her essay, "Il segreto dei I tarocchi Sola Busca e la cultura ermetico-alchenrm tra Marche e Veneto alla fine del Quattrocento" in the Brera's catalog to their exhibition of that name (Milano 2013), Laura Paola Gnaccolini has an interesting couple of paragraphs addressing the relationship between the SB trumps and the standard ones. While agreeing that the trump order is not that of any other trump sequence, she finds the same subjects in them as in the rest. I will give the Italian first, then my attempt at a translation.

After first noting that the Matto is obviously present as the SB Mato, she writes (pp. 37, 39):
...Per gli altri trionfi ci sono identificazioni sicure (le Stelle: IIII. MARIO (figg. 1.3,1.127); il Carro: VII. DEO TAVRO (fig. 1.84); la Giustizia: Vili. NERONE; (fig. 1.116), con intento sarcastico [120]; la Fortuna: X. VENTVRIO (fig. 1.8); la Luna: XII. CARBONE (fig. 1.18, 1.126); la Morte: XIII. CATONE [121] (figg. 1.25,1.85); il Traditore: XIIII. BOCHO (figg. 1.93, 1.133); il Sole: XVI. OLIVO (figg. 1.76); la [start p. 39] Sagitta [122]: XX. NENBROTO (fig. 1.4); il Mondo: XXI. NABVCHODENASOR; fig. 1.77), identificazioni probabili (il Bagatto [123]: I. PANFILIO (fig. 1.5); la Temperanza: V. CATVLO con la groma (figg. 1.10); Amore [124]: VI. SESTO con la fiaccola accesa (figg. 1.24); la Fortezza: XV. METELO con la colonna - figg. 1.21,1.128; il Diavolo [125]: XVII. IPEO - fig. 1.9; il Tempo - in seguito Eremita [126]: XVIII. LENTVLO - fig. 1.22) e trionfi che non riesco a identificare con un sufficiente grado di sicurezza (le carte IL POSTVMIO - fig. 1.26; III. LENPIO - fig. 1.6; VIIII. FALCO - fig. 1.7; XI. TVLIO - fig. 1.23; XVIIII. SABINO - figg. 1.19,1.95), che dovrebbero essere, ma non sappiamo in quale ordine, la Papessa, l’lmperatrice, l'Imperatore, il Papa e l’Angelo (cioè il Giudizio). A questo punto, se queste osservazioni sono valide, noi avremmo una sequenza molto particolare, che non corrisponde a nessuno dei tre tipi italiani individuati dagli studiosi [127], pia questa della grandissima originalità del mazzo anche sotto questo punto di vista [128].
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120. Si veda l'iconografia, che ricorda quella del Giudizio di Salomone, così come è raffigurato ad esempio nella tempera di Mantegna e bottega conservata a Parigi (Musée du Louvre), cfr. S. L'Occaso, in Mantegna 2008, cat. 127 pp. 314-315.
121. II coloritore ha inserito nella carta la stella e il motto "TRAHOR FATIS", che non esistevano nella versione a stampa.
122. In seguito più noto come Torre, ovvero Fuoco, ovvero Casa del Diavolo. Nei mazzi quattrocenteschi superstiti si trova solo nei "Tarocchi di Carlo VI", cfr. Berti 2007, p. 223. Vitali 1987, pp. 145-148 e Cieri Via 1987, pp. 158-160.
123. A causa della posizione della carta nella sequenza, D. Pagliai, in Le carte di corte 1987, pp. 162-163.
124. Immediatamente prima del Carro, Dummett 1987, pp. 80 n. 6, 136.
125. Dalla radice greca della parola potrebbe indicare "ciò che sta sotto", quindi un essere infernale. Il diavolo è raffigurato in veste di frate ad esempio nella vetrata neotestamentaria del duomo di Milano realizzata su cartoni di Vincenzo Foppa: ill. in Pirina 1986, p. 181. Si tratta invece dell'Eremita secondo Dummett 1993, pp. 80 n. 6, 136.
126. L'identificazione parrebbe confortata dal confronto della posa e della fisionomia (anche se qui una fiamma ha sostituito la clessidra) con il cosiddetto "Eremita" (denominazione più tarda per il "Tempo") nei due mazzi ferraresi noti come "Tarocchi di Alessandro Sforza" e "Tarocchi di Carlo VI", cfr. Algeri 1987, pp. 32-35 catt. 2-3; Cieri Via 1987, pp. 170-171.
127. Dummett 1993.
128. La sequenza sembra, almeno quanto alla posizione delle virtù, una mescolanza del tipo B, tipicamente ferrarese (con la Temperanza collocata sotto il trionfo più basso del secondo segmento della sequenza, cioè 6. Amore), e del tipo C, milanese. Molte sono le particolarità: si segnala l'inserimento dei "trionfi" di Stelle, Luna e Sole uno per ogni segmento; il fatto che il segmento iniziale parrebbe composto solo da quattro "trionfi" (anziché cinque) e una virtù (Temperanza); le altre virtù vengono inserite separatamente nel secondo (Giustizia) e nel terzo segmento (Fortezza), seguendo la posizione relativa del tipo C. La sequenza del secondo segmento rispecchia in linea di massima l'ordine dei tarocchi di Marsiglia (a parte l'inserimento della Luna), e non è chiaramente di tipo B perché la Giustizia è all'ottavo posto. Il terzo segmento è il più difficile da valutare, in quanto nelle due posizioni più alte ricorrono la Sagitta (20) e il Mondo (21), mentre non è chiara la posizione dell'Angelo (Giudizio). La quantità di varianti della sequenza Sola Busca rispetto ai tre tipi individuati dal Dummett, e da lui ricondotti rispettivamente all'area bolognese, ferrarese e milanese, conferma che ci troviamo davanti ad una serie ideata e realizzata in una zona diversa da quelle citate, stante il legame molto stretto tra sequenza e territorio d'origine a più riprese ribadito dallo studioso.
And my Google-assisted translation, with spacing and highlighting to make her points clearer:
There are for other triumphs secure identifications (the Stars: IIII. MARIO (Figs. 1.3,1.127); the Chariot: VII. DEO TAVRO (Fig. 1.84); Justice: VIII. NERONE (Fig. 1.116), with sarcastic intent [120]; Fortune: X. VENTVRIO (Fig. 1.8); the Moon: XII. CARBONE (Fig. 1:18 , 1,126); Death: XIII. CATONE [121] (Figs. 1.25,1.85), the Traitor: XIIII. BOCHO (Figs. 1.93, 1.133); the Sun: XVI. OLIVO (fig. 1.76); the Arrow: XX. NENBROTO (Fig. 1.4); and the World: XXI. NABVCHODENASOR fig. 1.77);

likely identifications (the Bagatto: I. PANFILIO (fig. 1.5); Temperance: V. CATVLO with the groma (fig.1.10); Love [123]: VI. SESTO with the lighted torch (Fig. 1.24); Fortitude: XV. METELO with the column - figs. 1.21,1.128), the Devil [124]: XVII. IPEO - Fig. 1.9; Time – later the Hermit [126]: XVIII. LENTVLO - fig. 1.22);

and triumphs that I cannot identify with a sufficient degree of security (the cards II. POSTVMIO - fig. 1:26; III. LENPIO - fig. 1.6; VIIII. FALCO - fig. 1.7; XI. TVLIO - Fig. 1:23; XVIIII. SABINO - Figs. 1.19,1.95); they should be, but we do not know in what order, the Popess, the Empress, the Emperor, the Pope and the Angel (Judgment).

At this point, if these observations are valid, we should have a very particular sequence, that does not match any of the three Italian types identified by scholars [127], thus indicating the great originality of the deck from this point of view [128].
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120. See the iconography, reminiscent of the Judgment of Solomon, as is depicted for example in the tempera of Mantegna and workshop kept in Paris (Musée du Louvre), cf . S. L'Occaso, in Mantegna 2008, cat. 127 pp. 314-315.
121. The colorist introduced in the card the star and the motto "TRAHOR FATIS", which did not exist in the printed version.
122. In what followed, more commonly known as the Tower, or Fire, or House of the Devil. In the surviving fifteenth century decks, found only in the " Tarot of Charles VI", cf . Berti 2007, p. 223, Vitali 1987, pp. 145-148 and Cieri Via 1987, pp. 158-160.
123. Because of the location of the card in the sequence, D. Pagliai in The Cards of the Court 1987 pp. 162-163.
124. Immediately before the Chariot, Dummett 1987, p.80 n . 6, 136.
125. From the Greek root of the word, it could mean "that which is below", thus an infernal being. The devil is
depicted as a monk, for example, in the New Testament window of Milan cathedral realized in cartoon by
Vincenzo Foppa: ill. in Pirina 1986, p. 181. It is instead the Hermit according to Dummett 1993, pp. 80 n . 6,136.
126. The identification seems confirmed by comparison with the pose and physiognomy (although here a flame
has replaced the hourglass) of the so-called " Hermit" (the later name for "Time") in the two decks of Ferrara known as "Tarot of Alessandro Sforza" and "Tarot of Charles VI", cf. Algeri 1987, p. 32-35 Catt. 2-3; Cieri Via 1987, p. 170-171.
127. Dummett 1993.
128. The sequence seems, at least as to the location of the virtues, a mixture of type B, typically Ferrara (with Temperance located below the lowest triumph of the second segment of the sequence, i.e. 6. Love), and type C of Milan. There are many special features: please note the inclusion of "triumphs" Stars, Moon and Sun one for each segment, and the fact that the initial segment would seem to only consist of four "triumphs" (instead of five) and a virtue (Temperance), the other virtues entering separately in the second (Justice) and third segment ( Fortitude), following the relative position of type C. The sequence of the second segment reflects in principle the order of the Tarot of Marseille (apart from the inclusion of the Moon), and is clearly of type B because Justice is in eighth place. The third segment is the most difficult to evaluate, as in the two highest positions recur the Arrow (20) and the World (21), while there is no clear position for the Angel (Judgment). The amount of sequence variants in the Sola Busca with respect to the three types identified by Dummett, and traced respectively to Bologna, Ferrara, and Milan, confirms that we are faced with a series designed and built in an area other than those mentioned above, given the very close relationship between sequence and region of origin often repeatedly found by researchers.
Justice, of course, is not in 8th place in the type B order, but rather in the C order. That might be a misprint. Added next day: actually, the order of the virtues is that of the Rosenwald and Bolognese decks, which are type A (http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-YlU6F53x-_E/U ... .35+PM.png). The order of the virtues wasn't part of Dummett's characterizations of A, B, and C.

To see the cards, go to http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Sola-Busca_gallery

As far as Gnaccolini's identifications, it is noteworthy that if correct there are some false leads to anyone who might want to identify the subject by an object familiar from another deck. XIII has a much more obvious star than IIII, even though IIII has five small ones. You have to see the dead body and know that 13 is Death. Justice, VIII.NERON, is holding a baby upside down over a fire; one might think it was the Hanged Man card, except for its number. That card, however, is the historical figure who betrayed the queen he was serving once he saw it was a lost cause, XIIII.BOCHO, who kneels servilely (http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Image:T14_Sola_Busca.jpg). He seems to have saved his kingship, as his son of the same name succeeded him. Also, Temperance, V.CATULO, has a wheel (http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Image:T05_Sola_Busca.jpg), unlike X.VENTURIO,who just looks cautious (http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Image:T10_Sola_Busca.jpg. Again it is the number that is determinative. Catulo is not, at least not primarily, the Latin poet with poems of uncontrollable passion for a married lady, but rather a Roman general who kept fighting and won, despite the leg wound seen on the card. And Venturio, except for his name (adventura = happening) and number, seems like he could go in either Temperance or Fortune. Finally, I think that putting XX.NENBROTO next to last gives it the aura of God's Justice in the B order, even though the imagery is that of the Arrow and Justice is already taken. In this deck the numbers carry much importance, probably not just in playing the game.

Of the subjects Gnaccolini cannot identify, interestingly, four are the "papi" of Bologna. However it does not seem to me hard to say who some of them might be. The religious figures would be II.POSTVMIO and III.LENPIO, because II is looking at a skull and III is performing a ritual involving fire (perhaps also an alchemical operation). Also, they are together, as they are in the B order, and where they should be, if the Emperor and Empress had not been moved. The secular heads would seem to be VIIII.FALCO, who has a crown, and one other. XVIIII.SABINO has no crown, but the right number for B order Judgment, and he is at least looking upward. XI.TVLIO has no crown and carries a torch (divine ardor?); given that he is identified with Cicero, I would put him as Judgment; he was judged by Lepidus and Antony, who were judged by Augustus and history. Elsewhere in the sequence number takes precedence over clues on the card in determining the subject (see next paragraph); but here I am not sure.

Here is Gnaccolini's list again, with my more or less accurate additions indicated, and also her reasons (besides the number) in parentheses. I also consulted Zucker, who notes, when he has nothing else to say, that the titles correspond to good Roman names.
0. MATO - Fool (half naked, disheveled, typical)
I. PANFILIO - Bagatto ("Panfilio" was a Venetian game per Cigagnaro, after its high card, the Page of Swords). It is "all-love" in Greek; and he seems to be smiling at someone.
II. POSTUMO - my guess: Popess. She's young, looking at skull i.e. mortality, and the right number. De Marchi suggests alchemical nigredo. Per http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Sola_Bus ... :_Postumio, Spurius Postumius suffered one of Rome's worst defeats and was enslaved. Silvius Postumus, however, was "worthy".
III. LENPIO - My guess: Pope, because he's doing a ritual, possibly alchemical. (Lepidus, who insisted, with Antony, on Cicero's death against Octavian's reluctance.)
IV. MARIO - Stars. Looking at 5 in sky; Caius Mario, Lieutenant of Metellus, the protagonist of the Jugurthine war with Sulla and then his opponent in the civil war.)
V. CATULO - Temperance. as just below Love and above Pope in B order, but has a wheel; C. Lutatius Catulus, consul of 242 B.C. winner in the naval battle in 241 that ended the first Punic War: "the wound in his thigh that did not prevent him from participating in combat, as is shown in the card, is attested by only Orosius"; also the famous poet.)
VI. SESTO - Love (torch; alchemical Mercurius)
VII. DEO TAURO - Chariot (he is in one; Deiotarus, Tetrarch of Galatia in Asia Minor and faithful ally of the Romans; also pun on Mithraic god)
VIII. NERON - Justice (Roman Emperor, C position antitype). But he holds baby upside down, as in the Hanged Man.
IX. FALCO - my guess for "Empress": crowned (Orosius's name for Q. Valerius, consul 238 b.c., in only that source)
X. VENTURIO - Fortune (by the number): without wheel, but looks happy; see my comment later
XI. TULIO - my guess for Angel: no crown, but looking up with torch, symbol of light & ardor, as if Judgment; (Cicero).
XII. CARBONE - Moon (in sky; Ludovico Carbone, Ferrarese humanist; albedo). There is also a Carbone who was co-leader with Marius, Zucker says.
XIII. CATONE - Death (victim on ground stabbed with his spear; Cato of Utica). There is also a star, for Fate. This Cato has more connection with other names on the list; but Cato the Elder was more the soldier who didn't hesitate to kill.
XIIII. BOCHO - Hanged Man (traitor King of Mauritania). Per http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Sola_Busca_Cards:_Bocho, he went to aid of Jugurtha against Marius; but when his army was slaughtered, he put Jugurtha in chains and gave her to Marius.
XV. METELO - Fortitude (warrior with column, but "many homonyms": Q. Metellus Creticus, or Metellus Celer, praetor in 63 BC during the Catiline conspiracy, as suggested by initials SC on card, senatus consultum, as he was charged by senate to make the arrests). There is also the Mettelus Scipio who joined with Cato of Utica against Caesar (and was killed).
XVI. OLIVO - Sun (in sky; has basilisk, necessary ingredient for getting gold, associated with sun). Animal misidentified as dragon at http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Image:T16_Sola_Busca.jpg).
XVII. IPIO Devil (per Zucker, Hippias tyrant of Athens). Bat wings, revering an idol; http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Sola_Busca_Cards:_Ipeo has other possibilities, none as convincing, because they are not devilish enough (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hippias_%28tyrant%29).
XVIII. LENTULO - Time/Hermit; bearded old man carrying lamp, crown and helmet on floor; (many homonyms, but "This gesture of the old man who pulls out his beard is a sign of defeat", so possibly P. Cornelius Lentulus Sura, Cateline follower who was put to death.) However I notice on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lentulus) that three other Lentuluses were also executed by one or another ruler; one of them was with Cato. Another Lentulus suffered an ignominious defeat from Spartacus in a valley called Lentula.
XVIIII. SABINO - my guess for Emperor; however the number is that of Judgment (Pietro Sabino, late 15th century Roman humanist, circle of Leto).
XX. NENBROTTO - Arrow (lightning, broken tower; "a mighty hunter in the sight of God" (Genesis 10, 8-10 ), but "was read by Dante (Inferno XXXI , 46-81 ; Purg. XII, 34-36 ; Par. XXVI, 126) as a giant who instigated the people to the building of the tower of Babel and was punished by God for this"). http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Sola_Bus ... :_Nenbroto gives other references to the same character. My added guess: suggestion of Justice from B position of that virtue.
XXI. NABACHUODENASOR - World, sphere behind him with dragon and stars = cosmos, crown off, scepter held ambiguously ("King of Babylon, responsible for the ruin of Judah and Jerusalem (who conquered it in 586). The dragon can be read as a symbol of evil, the new Babylon mentioned in the Book of Revelation (chapters 17-18)"; also mercurius soldificato in alchemy. At http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Sola_Bus ... chodenasor are other hermetic and biblical references, i.e. Daniel 1:1-2 and 4:25-34, Judith 2:1-7. To me the way he holds his scepter above a table is reminiscent of the Bagatto.

Three are not identified by anyone: Sesto, Venturio, and Olivo. My thought (and Zucker's) is tht "Sesto" is for Six. "Venturio" seems to me so-called for adventura, happening, and advent, what is coming. And Olivo for oliva, olive, symbolically the oil of purification, whose branch symbolizes peace and life.

Even if the false leads are not false, and the order is eccentric, it is clear enough that the subjects are intended to be the conventional ones, adapted to an "illustrious men" theme. Whether the four "papi" or the two secular and two spiritual heads of society are being used is unclear.

Added next day: And the order of the virtues is that of the Bolognese (which has the four "papi") and the Rosenwald (which doesn't have the four "papi").

Sola-Busca: artist, owner, designer

#2
Now I want to comment on the two essays in the Brera exhibition catalog, which I have finally got around to reading, to the extent that I am able, plus the commentaries on the two alchemical texts that were part of the exhibition.

(The two essays are Laura Paola Gnaccolini's "Il segreto dei I tarocchi Sola Busca e la cultura ermetico-alchenrm tra Marche e Veneto alla fine del Quattrocento" and and Andrea De Marchi, "Nicola di Maestro Antonio da Ancona peintre-graveur, fra vis comica e invenzioni esoteriche", in Il segreto dei I tarocchi Sola Busca e la cultura ermetico-alchenrm tra Marche e Veneto alla fine del Quattrocento, (Milano: Skira, 2013), Laura Paola Gnaccolini, ed., pp. 15-59 and pp. 60-73.)

The essay by Andrea De Marchi, which identifies the artist as Nicola di maestro Antonio da Ancona (Firenze, 1448-Ancona, 1511), I found quite persuasive; but then I don't know a lot about these more obscure artists of the Padua/Ferrara school (with some influence from Florence, from which the artist's father, also an artist, had emigrated).

In Gnaccolini's essay, the identification of the owner of the actual colored deck, as opposed to engravings of odd cards now in various museums, as the well known Venetian diarist Marino Sanudo il Giovane (1466-1536), the "M.S." on the Aces of Batons and Swords, was attractive. The stemma of the Sanudo family (silver with blue stripe), is apparently on the Aces of Coins and Cups, and that of the Lezier [note added Feb. 3 2015: the correct name is Vanier] family, his mother's, on the Aces of Swords and Batons and trumps I, IIII, XIIII, and XV (banded silver and red). Zucker had noticed these stemmi but didn't know what to make of them. Sanudo is documented as commissioning work by Marco Zoppo, whose style is similar to that of the cards, and had hermetic interests as well as in fostering the printing trade. (Another possibility she mentions is Marco Sanudo, his cousin.) Also, the identification of the two persons on the 2 of Coins as Ercole d'Este and Michele Savonarola fits that family. His father represented Venice in Ferrara at the right time, 1457-59, to have known this physician and pioneer in the use of metallic salts to treat illness (and so an "alchemist" broadly defined). Ercole, born 1431, would have known Savonarola (grandfather of the more famous one) both before his training in Naples (1145-1460)and at the end of Savonarola's life, d. 1468. But the portrait appears modeled on a Roman coin of Caligula.

But I was disappointed by Gnaccolini's argument for identifying the designer of the SB as Ludovico Lazzarelli. The principal reasons for the identification are (a) Lazzarelli had a demonstrated interest in alchemy; and (b) his hometown of San Severino, where he returned for a short visit in 1486 after a severe illness, is about 100 km. from Ancona, where the artist lived, in the same rather undistinguished part of the Marches.

On (a), Gnaccolini says (Catalog p. 50; the quotes from Lazzarelli are from Ludovico Lazzarlli, Testi scelti, ed. Brini, 1955; the Crisciani essay is ""Hermeticism and Alchemy: the Case of Ludovico Lazzarelli", in Alchemy and Hereticism, 2000, pp. 145-159; this is in fact a special issue of Early Science and Early Medicine, readily available on Jstor):
A testimonianza di un diretto interesse alchemico del Lazzarelli resta poi il Vade mecum ('Firenze, Biblioteca Riccardia.na, Ms. 984), una raccolta di ricette di Raimondo Lullo e altri, probabilmente trascritte per uso personale dall'umanista, che nell'introduzione presenta l'alchimia come "magia naturale", "congiunzione del corpo nel corpo" da cui deriva "la pietra dei filosofi" 202, in relazione con il testo del Picatrix, traduzione medievale di un famoso testo islamico sulla magia 203. Recentemente la Crisciani ha individuato anche una sua trascrizione del trattato Preziosa Margarita Novella di Pietro Bono, alchimista nel solco di Geber latino (Modena, Biblioteca Estense, Lat. 299) 204. Gli studiosi tendono a far coincidere la nascita dei suoi studi in campo alchemico con la notizia che suo maestro in questa disciplina sia stato, intorno al 1494, il borgognone Jean Rigaud de Branchiis 205, ma in realtà si trattò probabilmente dell'approfondimento di interessi precedenti già presenti, in parallel con lo studio delle tematiche ermetiche.

(As evidence of a direct alchemical interest by Lazzarelli is the Vade Mecum (Florence, Biblioteca Riccardiana, Ms. 984), a collection of recipes of Ramond Lull and others, probably transcribed for the personal use of the humanist, to which his introduction presents alchemy as "natural magic", "conjunction of the body in the body", from which is derived "the stone of the philosophers" [202], in relation to the text of the Picatrix, the translation of a famous medieval Islamic text on Magic [203]. Recently Crisciani identified also a transcription of the Treatise New Pearl of Great Price by Pietro Bono, an alchemist in the tradition of the Latin Geber (Modena, Estense Library , Lat. 299) [204]. Scholars tend to confuse the birth of his studies in alchemy with the news that his master in this discipline was, around 1494, the Burgundian Jean Rigaud de Branchiis [205]; but in reality it probably deepened previous interest already present, in parallel with the study of hermetic issues.)
In the introduction to the pseudo-Lullian texts he transcribes, Lazzarelli says that he learned the secret of elixir from his master in 1495. Therefore this introduction, at least, was written after 1495. It is possible that the epigram to the other transcribed work was written earlier, but if so not by much. In any case, Gnaccolini offers nothing to tie Lazzarelli's manuscript in particular to the cards. Pseudo-Lullian texts and Pietro Bono's "Pearl of Great Price" were widely read. Likewise, the terms she quotes from Lazzarelli's introduction--"natural magic'', "quintessence", "philosopher's stone" etc.--are very general. Except for the obscure "conjunction of the body in the body" ("congiunzione del corpo nel corpo"), the terms are just what would come to anyone's mind in relation to alchemy. Any special relationship to the Sola-Busca cards is not apparent.

That Lazzarelli was interested--in a general way--in alchemy before 1495, including the late 1480s, may well be correct, even though there is no direct evidence of such interest in his writings before 1495. Moshe Idel has argued that a quotation in Lazzarelli's "Crater Hermetis" points to Yohanan Alemanno's manuscript collection of Kabbalist writings, and that since they were both in Padua in the 1460s they probably knew each other (Hanegraaff, Ludovico Lazzarelli: The Hermetic Writings and Related Documents, p. 86ff). Checking superficially on the Internet (http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jso ... 00704.html), I see that Alemanno's Collecteania in fact also discusses Jewish alchemy approvingly. Given the similarity of Alemanno's Kabbalah and Lazzarelli's hermeticism, it is likely that Lazzarelli would have been at least interested in alchemy, if only out of curiosity. Many humanists looked favorably on alchemy. Any could have inserted the alchemical imagery, such as it is, into the Sola-Busca. It shows no great profundity of understanding, as I will show in another post. In any case, Gnaccolini makes no effort to connect it to Lazzarelli in particular.

As for the Picatrix, Lazzarelli only mentions "Piccatrix" as the author of the text he is citing,"The Key of Wisdom". That is a text usually attributed to Artifeus; he does cite it correctly according to Hanegraaff (p. 275 n. 5), as his source for his view that alchemy is concerned with "the conjunction of the body in the body" (or "a body with a body", in Hanegraaff's translation of "corporis in corpore"). If this doctrine, on top of the pseudo-Lullian ideas, were expressed visually in the cards, that would be of interest. Gnaccolini makes no such claims.

Another text Lazzarelli mentions, for its quotation of a variant on the Emerald Tablet's "as above so below", is pseudo-Aristotle's "Secret of Secrets to Alexander". A treatise by that name, translated from Arabic, wass "one of the most widely read books of the High Middle Ages", according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secretum_Secretorum. The 13th century enlarged version did contain a version of the Emerald Tablet, Wikipedia says.

Gnaccolini does attempt to connect the illustrations in the two 15th century alchemical texts exhibited at the Brera exhibition with the cards. But she makes no claims that they have anything to do with Lazzarelli. One, an "alchemical miscellany", was done for a Benedictine monastery near Florence, c. 1467-1470, Gnaccolini says. That is interesting in itself, given that one of two monasteries she suggests for that honor is a Comaldolesan one under the jurisdiction of the Monasterio dell'Angeli where Ficino lectured, as early as 1469 according to Lackner ("The Camaldolese Academy", in Marsilio Ficino: His theology his philosophy, his legacy, p. 31). That might suggest a connection between the cards and Florence; but it is a long way from a relationship to Lazzarelli.

Might Lazzarelli have used this manuscript for his transcriptions? Gnaccolini offers nothing to indicate that he did. What relation did he have to Florence? His humanists were in Rome, being favored over the Florentines for jobs by the Pope. (On the other hand, Crisciani says that Lazzarelli's connection with Pico and Ficino is "documented" (p. 158); frustratingly, she says nothing else.) Is there anything that can tie Lazzarelli to Florence, or his version of pseudo-Lull with the Florentine one? That is an issue Gnaccolini did not pursue.

The illustrations are in fact quite unlike the cards; all Gnaccolini points to is an "agricultural" theme in both. That is simply too general: the metaphor of the alchemist's "seeding" and "growing" the metals was a common one.

The illustrations of the second manuscript, called "Secreta secretorum philosophorum", may relate better to the cards; at least Gnaccolini does attempt to relate a few to the cards. Their style, she says, is Paduan-Venetian of the 1460s, but also corresponds to the watercolors in an illuminated printed Petrarch Trionfi/Canzioniere of Venice 1488. If Lazzarelli had this manuscript in his possession, acquired in the 1460s, that would mean something. But Gnaccolini makes no such suggestion. It is difficult to imagine Lazzarelli having the wherewithal in the 1460s for such a purchase. Probably the manuscript was in Venice in the 1480s, available to the designer as a source of illustrations. Lazzarelli, as I will explain shortly, was probably nowhere near Venice at that time.

Apart from the illustrations, it is possible that the "Secreta secretorum" text mentioned by Lazzarelli is the same as the "Secreta secretorum" exhibited in the Brera. But Wikipedia mentions that there was another book by the same name, with the same title, giving alchemical recipes and a description of the alchemical laboratory. Gnaccolini makes no mention of Alexander, or the Emerald Tablet, in the book that the Brera exhibited; so more likely it is a different book by the same name. She neither affirms nor denies that they are the same book.

Another way of clarifying whether Lazzarelli was the designer of at least the trumps would be by ascertaining his relationship to the very specific Latin sources about Roman history that scholars have identified for the names of Roman heroes on the cards. She assumes that Lazzarelli would have known them, since he was associated with Leto's "academy" in Rome in the 1470s and early 80s. If so, why are none of them mentioned in his writings? He appears to have had no interest in Roman history. Many of the heroes are rather obscure.To be sure, that this part could have been done by someone else. But that person likely would have had enough familiarity with alchemical imagery to be able to insert it into the cards at appropriate places.

There is also the question of the contemporary humanists that Gnaccolini says are being referred to on the cards: Carbone, Sandino, Sarafino (on the Knight of Coins) etc. Lazzarelli does mention fellow Academy members in his Fasti? Hanegraaff gives a list: "Bartolmeo Platina, Sulpizio de Veroli, Paolo Marsi, Publio Astre, and Aurelio Brandolini". Yet none of these are on the cards; nor are the ones that are on the cards mentioned by Lazzarelli. That is not surprising, because in Gnaccolini's account of these figures, none is documented where Lazzarelli was at the times in question.

There is also the question of the humor in the cards as compared to the writings of Lazarelli. His writings are humorless, in the style of hymns or devotional writings. The cards, however, are irreverent to the point of being grotesque. Related to this, there is the homoerotic content of the cards. Lazzarelli seems to have been heterosexual, given that he fell in love with a certain Arianna in the 1460s, as Hanegraaff concludes based on a passage in the Fasti (Hanegraaff p. 10f). After that, his relationships seem to have been confined to his Muses. They, of course, are infallibly female.

And how, or why, would Lazzarelli have known the artist? That San Severino is close to Ancona is the second reason why Gnaccolini associates Lazzarelli with the cards. But betwen 1473 and 1495 he was rarely anywhere near. His brother Filippo reports a visit home once, in 1486 after an illness (Hanegraaff p. 48), and when he was in between Rome and Naples. Yes, San Severino is only about 100 km. from Ancona, but it is the other way from Rome or Naples. He does not seem to have spent much time there, because he was soon in Naples tutoring Angelo Colocci, then around 12 years old (Hanegraaff p. 52). In a Vatican codex that once belonged to Angelo, Maria Paolo Sacri recently discovered an autograph manuscript by Lazarelli (Hanegraaff p. 50). In it is a passage in which he alludes to meeting Ferrante and complains of no further attention from him:
Twice the moon has been full and twice she has been gone
since I offered my Fasti to the King.
And since then I could neither come into the King's presence,
nor speak with many--my modesty is well known.
This lament must also be put in the context of another occurrence in 1486. Ferrante invited Lazzarelli's hero and master Giovanni "Mercurio" da Correggio to come to Naples. On the way, at Easter, Correggio preaches his Hermetic gospel in Florence, where he is imprisoned on order of Lorenzo de' Medici and investigated for heresy. Ferrante then writes Lorenzo asking for his release, which is granted. Hanegraaff observes:
Based on what we know of Correggio's experiences in Florence, Lazzarelli's first meeting with Ferrante must have taken place briefly after his arrival in Naples; otherwise it would be hard to explain the king's interest in calling for Correggio, in the same year of 1486, and intervening on the prophet's behalf after he had been imprisoned by the order of Lorenzo il Magnifico.
Lazzarelli's job tutoring Angelo Colocci appears to have lasted until the boy moved to live with his uncle in Rome in 1490. At the time Lazzarelli was finishing his poem De Bombyce (the Silkworm), which he dedicated to the boy in language suggesting a tutor-pupil relationship. (See the end of this post for more on this dating.)

This is precisely the time period when Lazzarelli is supposed to be designing an innovative tarot, which is fairly securely dated, in its colorized version, to 1491! How would that have been possible? Unfortunately, Gnaccolini hasn't done the chronology carefully. She simply does not address the time between his visit home in 1486 and his writing of hte "Crater Hermetis" in Naples 1492-1494, except for saying that he was engaged in the "rearrangement of his Fasti" in Naples;
Dopo la morte di papa Sisto IV nel 1484, mutando il clima romano per l'ascesa al soglio pontificio di Innocenzo Vili, Lazzarelli pensò dapprima di cercare protezione presso Mattia Corvino poi, alla morte del re ungherese e dopo un certo periodo in patria intorno al 1486 per una grave malattia, alla corte aragonese (a questo periodo risale il rimaneggiamento dei Fasti). A Napoli dovette dimorare con certezza, come dimostra la dimestichezza con il vecchio re Ferrante, ritratto insieme al Pontano nella posizione di discepolo del Lazzarelli nel Crater Hermetis del 1493-1494...

(After the death of Pope Sixtus IV in 1484, the Roman climate changing with the ascent to the papacy of Innocent VIII, Lazzarelli thought at first to seek protection from Matthias Corvinus, and then, upon the death of the Hungarian king and after some time at home around 1486 with a serious illness, the Aragonese court (in this period was the rearrangement of the Fasti). He must certainly have lived In Naples, as he demonstrates familiarity with old King Ferrante, portrayed along with Pontano in the position of disciple of Lazzarelli in the Crater Hermetis of 1493-1494...)

Since the Fasti was mainly finished in Rome, it would not take much time to "rearrange" it. That would give ample time for the Sola-Busca, especially if he is in San Severino recuperating for part of this period. But it is unlikely that it went that way, as Hanegraaf's careful study shows. (I notice that his book, which came out in 2005, is not in Gnaccolini's bibliography.) The information about the illness comes from his brother Filippo and a fragment from the lost Vita by Fabrizio Lazzarelli. What Filippo says is that Lazzarelli "fell sick in the City"--meaning Rome--and "moved back to his home town" (Hanegraaff p. 297). The fragment from Fabrizio says that the poet returned to San Severino in 1486, in the wake of a grave illness. Hanegraaff concludes:
But rather than having stayed there for the rest of his life, as one would coclude from Filippo's accouunt, it appears that he eventually moved on to Naples.
However "eventually" must have been rather soon, because Hanegraaff also has him talking to Ferrante about Correggio before Correggio's arrest in Florence at Easter. This makes sense. Lazzarelli merely returned to San Severino briefly in between Rome and Naples. He would not have traveled while suffering a "grave illness"; but he might have done so after he had sufficiently recovered. And then his relatives, in recounting his life, simply omitted the embarrassing parts about Correggio and Hermeticism. Filippo does not even mention Lazzarelli's "Crater Hermetis".

So at least until 1490, Lazzarelli was finishing a major poem and serving the Colocci household; generally tutors had more to do than just give a pupil lessons. Also, if his mind was primarily on alchemy then, it is strange that none of the apparent revisions of the Fasti, alluding to Hermeticism, allude to alchemy. Nor does the 1492-94 "Crater Hermetis" make the least reference to alchemy, although it would have been easy enough to do so.

Since the chronology of Lazzarelli's life is quite confusing, given the discrepancies among sources, I have put a summary of Hanegraeff's reconstruction of his life at the end of this post.

There is also the issue of the cards' patron in Venice. Gnaccolini supposes that Sanudo merely bought the engravings after they were made. I find it hard to imagine that someone would expend that much effort without a buyer secured. And the Ercole d'Este/Michele Savonarola portraits, which relate to his family, are engraved, not painted. Gnaccolini suggests it would have been from contacts developed in Rome, or secured by the artist himself. It is possible. But Venice and Ancona (and from there to Venice's colonies in Dalmatia) had many connections, in trade and art, without Lazzarelli.

Then there are the ancient coins that the artist used as models for the faces on the cards. These were valuable and must have come from a collector, I would guess traced by another artist in Venice or Ferrara and the tracings sent to the Ancona artist. This at least shows the involvement of others besides a humanist in Naples.

I conclude that any association between the cards and Lazzarelli is quite dubious.

TIME-LINE FOR THE LIFE OF LAZZARRELLI (based on Hanegraaff)

1447 February. Born in San Severino.
1448 or a little later. Father dies, family moves to Campli, his mother's hometown.
1450s. Tutored by Christoforo de Montone in Campli.
1460. Writes heroic poem celebrating battle of San Flaviano, Ferrante's victory. Poem allegedly presented to Alessandro Sforza, also comes to notice of Roman poet Luca Torzoli.
1462-1464, some portion. Tutoring Bernardino di Capua in Atri.
1464-66. Tutor in Teramo to family of humanist bishop Giovanni Antonio Campano, friend and correspondent of Ficino, who had finished his Hermetica translation 1463.
1460s. Falls in love with a certain Arianna, as recounted later in his Fasti, leading nowhere.
1468. Attends tournament in Padua, writes a heroic poem commemorating it, amply rewarded, according to Filippo's memoir, by its dedicatee John Chetworth, rector of the University of Padua.
1468. Writes Hymn to Prometheus dedicated to the Venetian ambassador.
1468. Living in Sacile with his brother Gerolamo, he recites an oration to the Emperor in nearby Pordenone and is awarded a laureatte. An oration at the ceremony, Nov. 30, praises Lazzarelli's skills.
1468-1469. In Venice writing his De gentilium deorum imaginibus. Originally dedicated to Borso d'Este, who died 1471.
After 1469. Moves to Camerino, year unknown, tutors the Duke Giulio Cesare da Varano's son Fabrizio. At some point family moves to Pioraca to escape the plague. (These places are both inland from San Saverino.) He begins his Fasti. Meets Lorenzo Zane in Pioraca.
1473. Moves to Rome in service to Zane. Deserted by Zane. Joins reformed Roman Academy.
1480. Still in Rome, finishes first version of Fasti.
1481. Meets Giovanni da Corregio at his first appearance in Rome, then returning home in Bologna.
1482. Gives Correggio a translation of all the known Hermetica, including the Differentia Asclepii translated by himself and not part of Ficino's edition.
1483. Giovanni calls himself "Mercurio" da Correggio.
1484. Correggio's 2nd appearance in Rome, as documented by Lazzarelli.
1484. Pope Sixtus IV dies, succeeded by Innocent VIII, known for his bull against witchcraft and condemnation of Pico in early 1487.
1486. Correggio invited by King Ferrante to come to Naples.
1486. Easter. Correggio preaches in Florence, probably on his way to Naples; imprisoned on order of Lorenzo de' Medici, investigated for heresy.
1486. Ferrante writes Lorenzo to request release of Correggio, which is granted.
1486. Lazzarelli in San Severino after a serious illness.
1486. Lazzarelli apparently in Naples, probably invited there by Francesco Colocci, to tutor his younger cousin Angelo, then 12. Lazzarelli's former employer Campano, now King Ferrante's secretary of state, is also friends with Colocci. Lazzarelli probably has an audience with Ferrante, prompting letter to Lorenzo on Correggio's behalf. Lazzarelli dedicates De Bombyx to his pupil Angelo Colocci.
1490. Angelo moves to Rome. Various brief poems and notes by Lazzarrelli, e.g. Latin riddles, are kept by Angelo.
1492-94. Still in Naples, writing "Crater Hermetis".
1494. Jan., death of King Ferrante.
1494. Bergundian alchemist John Rigaud de Branchiis in Siena practicing alchemy in collaboration with a master Albertus, physician from Perugia.
1495. Feb., Charles VII of France enters Naples.
1495, after Feb. Lazzarelli in Rome visiting Angelo. Bombyce printed on Angelo's orders in Rome 1495-98.
1495. Lazzarelli probably proceeds to Bologna, giving his transcription of "Pearl of Great Price" to Correggio, with its epigram to his "teacher". That would explain why the manuscript ended up in Modena. (It might have been Rigaud that he gave it to.)
1495. Year Lazzarelli says Rigaud imparted the "secret of the elixir" to him.
1495 or later. Return of Lazzarelli to San Severino.
1500. Lazzarelli dies in San Severino.

Additional note: Gnaccolini says that Lazzarelli first knew Francesco Colocci in the 1460s, during the time he was tutoring an "Andria Bernardino Acquaviva" in "the Kingdom of Naples", the son of a city's ruler.
La sua vita ci è stata tramandata dalla biografia latina manoscritta stésa dal fratello Filippo [177] e da quella tarda posta da Francesco Lancinoti a introduzione dell'edizione del Bombyx, uscito a Jesi presso Pietro Paolo Bonelli nel 1765 [178], con alcune aggiunte che si ricavano da citazioni di autori contemporanei. Da queste fonti risulta che il Lazzarelli, terminati gli studi (durante i quali già si distinse per una produzione poetica), fu per un certo periodo nel Regno di Napoli presso Francesco Colocci, quindi istitutore ad Andria di Bernardino Acquaviva, figlio di Matteo signore della città.

(His life has been handed down in the Latin biography manuscript drawn up by his brother Filippo, and [177] what was put down later by Francesco Lancilloti in introduction to his edition of the Bombyx, published at Jesi by Peter Paul Bonelli in 1765 [178], with some additions that are derived from quotations by contemporary authors. From these sources it is seen that Lazzarelli, having completed his studies (during which he already distinguished himself by a poetic production), was for a time in the Kingdom of Naples with Francesco Colocci, then tutor of Andria Bernardino Acquaviva, son of Matteo lord of the city.)
That Lazzarelli tutored an "Andria Bernardino Acquaviva" is a confusion foisted by Lancilotti, the 18th century editor of De Bombyx, according to Hanegraaff. Matteo Acquaviva took over rulership of Atri (near Pesaro) from di Capua in 1464; Lazzarelli had been tutor to Bernardino di Capua and did not go into Acquaviva's service. There is also the erroneous notion that De Bombyce was dedicated to Angelo Colocci at his birth in 1467; hence Lazzarelli was working for Francesco Colocci then or before. In fact, Hanegraaff says, Angelo was born in 1474 according to family records, and "the reference to Angelo's pleasant demeanor does not seem to fit a newborn baby" (p. 52, which has a long discussion of this point, using among other sources Federico Ubaldini, Vita di Mons. Angelo Colocci, Edizione del testo originale italiano, Vatican 1969).

Lazzarelli's alchemy as "stairway to heaven" & Last Judgme

#3
Now I want to comment more thoroughly on what Lazzarelli's writings on alchemy might tell us about the tarot sequence, either the Sola-Busca or more generally. My point of departure is Gnaccolini's comments about his Vade Mecum (Florence, Biblioteca Riccardiana, Ms. 984), his transcription of pseudo-Lullian works, for which his introduction presents alchemy as "natural magic", "conjunction of the body in the body", from which is derived "the stone of the philosophers"; and his transcription of the New Pearl of Great Price by Pietro Bono, an alchemist in the tradition of the Latin Geber (Modena, Estense Library, Lat. 299), for which he wrote a short introductory twelve line poem entitled "The poet Lodovico Lazzarelli of Sanseverino to his teacher Johannes". eWhether this "teacher" is Giovanni da Correggio or Jean Rigaud de Branchiis is unclear. Since it ended up in Modena, Hanegraaff thinks it was to Correggio.

Hanegraaff has translated the first two sections of Lazzarelli's Tractatus de Alchimia, his introduction to the pseudo-Lullian alchemical writings that he transcribed. Here is what Lazzarelli says:
HERMES, the father of theologians, magi, and alchemists, has revealed the secrets of theology and magic and alchemy in one brief statement to his children, when he said: What is above i like what is below, and what is below is like what is above, to accomplish the miracles of the one thing. Its father is the Sun, its mother is the Moon etc. A dictum which was quoted by Aristotle in the Secret of Secrets to Alexander, where he says: And oru father Hermogenes, who is Threefold in philosophy, gave an excellent prophecy and said: THE TRUTH is as follows, and it is beyond doubt, that the lower things respond to the higher, and the higher to the lower, etc. These three mysteries are none other than what Piccatrix says in his book that is called the Key of Wisdom, namely the conjunction of a body with a body [corporis in corpore], the conjunction of a soul [spiritus] with a body [spiritus in corpore], or the conjunction of a soul with a soul [spiritus in spiritu].

The conjunction of a body with a body is the conjunction of the heavenly flesh, namely the quintessence, with the body of a virginal and purified earth: the result is the philosophers' stone, and this is the natural magic about which all the alchemists speak.
He then goes on to say that "conjunction of spirit with body" means bringing down the spirits of the planets into corporal images, the celestial magic of Zoroaster, "disapproved of by the holy fathers; and the "conjunction of spirit with a spirit" is the unity of the Spirit of God with the spirit of man, a doctrine he finds in St. Paul's First Corinthians. I want to focus on the first, body with body, which is what pertains to Lazzarelli's conception of alchemy.

Hanegraaff does not translate or even transcribe the actual pseudo-Lullian works that Lazzarelli included. All he says is (p. 98):
...even more strongly than in the Crater we find the concept of Nature as a subtly graded "stairway to heaven"; her manifestations reflect her Maker on every level, and thus by exploring Nature's forces and secrets, we will gradually be led to the "sanctuaries of the Word-begotten God."
The idea of a "stairway" is also suggested in alchemical imagery of the time, in which the various stages of the work are represented as planets, with the top being either the Sun and the Moon or those two plus a star. One example is from the "Heilege Dreifaeltigkeit" in a manuscript of the third quarter of the 15th century:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/chemherita ... otostream/
There are also these, from later on, 1625 and 1588: http://photos1.blogger.com/x/blogger/61 ... 29.jpg.jpg

However the alchemist (and sometimes also the Hermeticist) is not engaged in a vertical ascent.

The "Crater Hermetis" is Lazzarelli's hermetic/kabbalist version of the ascent to God. But in it there is no ascent to heaven, and no bringing of heaven to earth. Rather, there is "soul-making", the creation of invisible helpful spirits.
... just as the Lord or God the begetter (genitor)
generates the celestials and procreates the angels
who are the forms of things, the heads (206) (qui rerum species, qui capita omnium)
and first examples of all,

Just so the true man creates divine souls (divas sic animas verus homo facit)
which the ancient host used to call gods of the earth,
who are glad to live close to human beings
and rejoice at the welfare of man.

They give prophetic dreams, they offer help
to man's need, they punish the godless,
and splendidly reward the pious,
Thus they fulfill the command of God the Father.

They overcome the trials of fate
and chase away destructive illness,
thereby fulfilling the words of the prophets.
They create the Word of God. (207) (Hi verbum faciunt Dei.)

That is why the Begetter has given man
a mind like his own, and speech, [208]
that he, like the gods, may bring forth gods,
fulfilling the decrees of the Father.

Most happy is he that knows the gifts of fate;
he will gladly fulfill it,
for he is to be reckoned among the gods,
he is not inferior to the gods above.
____________________
206. Cf. Asclepius 23: 'deorum genus omnium confessione manifestum est de mundissima parte naturae esse prognatum signaque eorum sola quasi capita pro omnibus esse' (Nock & Festugière [ 1946] comment that 'signa' means "astral forms", which are like heads without body, while the statues of gods (species deorum) fabricated by man depict the whole body)
207. A less daring translation would be "They speak the Word of God," but the context (cf. next couplet) suggests that Lazarelli has something stronger in mind.
208. Cr. Crater Hemetis 25.3 with n. 188.
So now I have to give 25.3 and n. 188. This part is in prose, Lazzarelli addressing King Ferrante (Ferdinandus) (Hanegraaff p. 145, 147):
Because the human mind is the image of the first mind, it has received from the latter not only fertility, but also immortality: these two main gifts are given by that mind itself to its image, that is to say, to the word. That is why Hermes says that the mind and the word are as precious as immortality and why he admonishes us that whoever uses these gifts the way he should is in no way different from the immortals--he even says that through them he is finally brought into the choirs of the blessed. (188) These two things combined, Your Majesty, bring forth a divine offspring.
________________
188. C.H. XII.12 indeed states that God has granted to mankind (but not to any other mortal animal) two things, i.e. "mind and reasoned speech, which are worth as much as immortality" (Cop. 45), and continues by saying that the man who uses these gifts as he should will not be distinguished in anything from the immortals. Ficino's translation is faithful to the meaning of the original [I omit Ficino's Latin translation.] But notice how Lazzarelli manipulates his audience by suggesting that the "two main gifts" are fertility and immortality. This statement is not at all supported by the hermetic reference, but the way Lazzarelli presents his case suggests that it does.
So the created souls are much like the spirits which exist between humanity and the gods of which Socrates had spoken in the Symposium, and which the Asclepius had said could be persuaded to descend into statues. But Lazzarelli is saying something different: they are actually created by man, just as God had created man, through speech. He perhaps has in mind something like Abulafia's permutations of the letters of the alphabet, or Ficino's hymns to Orpheus sung accompanied by his lyre. It is more than what an author does in creating his characters: something real, in some sense, is created. In creating by his word, he is thus like his creator. From these verses it is a very short step to soul-creation by alchemy, which combines conscious thought and prayer with the manipulation of minerals.

For more details it might be helpful to go to the actual pseudo-Lullian texts that Lazarelli has transcribed. Since these are not available, I go to Chiara Crisciana, in "Hermeticism and Alchemy: The Case of Ludovico Lazzarelli" (Early Science and Medicine, 2000). She has several pages of paraphrase from these texts, rather difficult to summarize, and I am not always clear when she is talking about pseudo-Lull and when she is talking about Lazzarelli. I will focus on her discussion of the idea of uniting body with body:
Pseudo-Lull thus proposes a general project for the transformation and restoration of both man and the cosmos which ranges from transmutation to a universal therapy. The models and aims of perfection to which the Testamentum refers are, on one hand, the image of the perfect body of man as represented by Adam and, on the other hand, the image of the earth taken back, through a positive apocalypse, in the pure and immobile perfection of the crystal.
This description seems to be the same thing that Lazzarelli is talking about in his introductory comments, with a few details more. It is a return to the original state. But how is this a "stairway"? And what kind of "apocalypse"?

It seems that the alchemists thought of the stages of the work in terms of the seven days of creation, and also a corresponding seven ages of the world. We are now living in the sixth age, on the sixth day, in which androgynous Adam was created in the image of God. The sixth age was inaugurated by Jesus's birth from Mary, and the seventh age will be inaugurated by Jesus in his second coming.

Moreover, the alchemist in his laboratory can duplicate these days and ages, with the help of God. They are the seven stages of the opus, at the end of which is the conjunction of the "heavenly flesh" of Adam with the "virginal earth" with the "pure and immobile perfection of the crystal", resulting in the philosopher's stone.

It seems likely to me that Hieronymus Bosch's "Garden of Earthly Delights" (with which Hanagraaff starts his essay "Sympathy and the Devil", at http://www.esoteric.msu.edu/VolumeII/Sympdevil.html) is meant to represent the state of the new earth where people are rejuvenated by the philosopher's stone. The exterior doors to this painting show a strange vegetative earth enclosed in crystal (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Hiero ... ers%29.jpg). Laurinda Dixon argues for this alchemical interpretation in her book Bosch, p. 273f:
Bosch's monochromatic image of the transparent globe containing clouds of vapour, water, and earth represents God's creation of the earth, which alchemists imitated, and recalls the egg in its common laboratory form, a spherical or ovoid glass vessel. The image of a drowned and soggy earth, encased in a glass container, corresponds to the alchemical vision of the stage of 'ablution', also called the 'flood of Noah', when the ingredients were washed, cleansed and resurrected. In the laboratory, alchemists noted that the heavy parts of earth remained in the bottom of the flask and the subtle vapours rose upwards. Bosch expertly reproduces the reflective properties of glass and the steamy vapour clouds as they appeared at this time.
On the surface of this earth are odd vegetable-like parts of pods and stems. They resemble pieces of gourds, such as we see carried in the Sola-Busca 5 of Batons (http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/images/t ... _Busca.jpg). On the surface of Bosch's earth, shoots are sprouting here and there, sometimes inside the shells, e.g. a couple on the lower right of the left door. These are the new beings. At the top Bosch has put (along with a little God), in Latin, "For he spoke, and it was" and "By his command, they were created". But what new beings? And who is their creator I would think they are the beginnings of same souls that earlier Lazzarelli proposed were created by speech, created by art rather than nature or God, or rather by God in the art, as my next long quote will make explicit.

Another work that Lazzarelli includes in his transcriptions from alchemy is the "New Pearl of Great Price" by the Ferrarese alchemist and physician Pietro Bono, from the 1330s. In relation to Lazzarelli's comments about the "conjunction of a body with a body", we find the following, in an 1894 translation (http://archive.org/stream/newpearlofgre ... a_djvu.txt) that compares reasonably with another translation I found, by C. G. Jung, except at the end. I highlight the most relevant part:
...It is God alone that perfects our Stone, and Nature has no hand in it. It is on account of this fact that the ancient Sages were able to prophecy: the influence of the supernatural Stone exalted them above the ordinary level of human nature. The prophecies which they uttered were frequently of a special and most important character. Though heathens, they knew that there would come for this world a day of judgment and consummation; and of the resurrection of the dead, when every soul shall be reunited to its body, not to be severed from it thenceforward forever. Then they said that every glorified body would be incorruptible, and perfectly penetrated in all its parts by the spirit, because the nature of the body would then resemble that of the spirit. Bonellus, in the Turba says: All things live and die at the beck of God, and there is a nature which on becoming moist, and being mingled with moisture for some nights, resembles a dead thing; thereafter it needs fire, till the spirit of that body is extracted, and the body becomes dust. Then God restores to it its soul and spirit. Its weakness is removed, and it is raised incorruptible and glorious. Our substance conceives by itself, and is impregnated by itself and brings forth itself, and this, the conception of a virgin, is possible only by Divine grace.
Jung has a different translation of the last part (Psychology and Alchemy, p. 374f):
The old philosophers discerned the Last Judgment in this art, namely in the germination and birth of this stone, for in it the soul to be beatified unites with its original body, to eternal glory. So also the ancients knew that a virgin must conceive and bring forth, for in their art the stone begets, conceives, and brings itself forth.
This last is the famous lapis/Christ parallel of alchemy, in the imagery of the Last Days. All of this is in the alchemist's retort, the "crystal" in which the "new earth" is generated. It reproduces the sequence of the body's death, the soul's ascent, the perfection of the body, and its uniting with the purified spirit.

Dixon (p. 274f) goes on, in her exposition of the outer panel of Bosch's Garden, to cite the 15th century alchemist George Ripley to a similar point:
Ripley, who was court alchemist for King Edward IV of England, spoke of paradise lost and paradise regained after the "flood', reflecting the belief that success would result in a return to Eden for the human race. Likewise Bosch's triptych would have connected the luscious garden of delights with the rewards of a life devoted to earnest study and Christian devotion.
It seems to me that the last two cards of the Sola-Busca are one way of approaching the idea of the re-creation of Eden (not on earth, but in the retort). Nembroto is the evil dross that the fire of God separates from the body and the spirit. Then the last card has a dragon in the background, in a crystal-like sphere. The dragon, in alchemy, is the symbol both of the chaos at the beginning of the work (, and of the end of the work, when it flies upward, transcending the world, but also remains in the retort. Adam McLean, discussing animal symbols of the Nigredo, talks first about the Crow or Raven, then the Toad, and finally the Dragon (http://www.levity.com/alchemy/animal.html):
The Toad was a better symbol of the Putrefaction [than the Crow or Raven], the decaying mass slowly pulsating and shifting as gasses were given off, while the substance rotted down to a black mass. Another symbol of this stage was the dragon, a familiar inhabitant of the alchemists flasks. The dragon is however a more complex symbol and is also used when winged as a symbol for the spiritualising of the earthly substance. Thus to the alchemists the dragon appeared at the beginning and at the end of the work.
The dragon on card XXII of the Sola-Busca is not only winged but flying (http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Image:T21_Sola_Busca.jpg). This is a contrast not just to dragons at the beginning of the alchemical work, but also to the basilisk of card XVI (http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/images/t ... _Busca.jpg). Gnaccolini reasonably suggests, basing herself on the 12th century writer Tholopholus, that the basilisk represents a powder that was added to the work to facilitate the transmutation to gold, as symbolized by the sun on the card. If so, it was probably a poisonous substance, it seems to me, since the basilisk was also an animal notorious for killing people by its breath. The flying dragon, even as it represents the transcendence of material conditions, is confined to its hermetically sealed flask lest it create death instead of length of days.

I am not proposing that Lazzarelli is the designer of these cards. Others read the same material; the ambiguity of the dragon would have been well known and is not an image I have even found in Lazarelli. I think rather that these cards are part of a shared perspective on the "stairway" of ascent as expressed in various symbol-systems, all leading to a Last Judgment and transfiguration of human souls. Others were interested as well: for example, the same Camaldolese (with others) in Florence who read their General Trevarsari's translation of pseudo-Dionysius and listened to Ficino also--they or other Benedctine brothers then--in the late 1460s copied and had illustrated the pseudo-Lullian codex on exhibit at the Brera. As such, especially given its reference to the Last Days, this perspective may well apply to other tarot sequences besides the Sola-Busca, even without overt alchemical imagery. In this way the Sola-Busca again may not be as eccentric as it looks.

The Exhibition's Two Alchemical Manuscripts

#4
Gnaccolini's essay describes two alchemical treatises that were part of the exhibition. In this post I am going to ddiscuss how she relates them to the cards. Be advised that in this post I will not talk about Lazzarelli at all.His writings, in so far as they have been translated, I have not been able to relate to the deck, except very generally to the last two trumps, as I explained in my previous post.

One of the manuscripts is a pseudo-Lullian miscellany, loaned by the Nazionale Centrale di Firenze (Banco Rari 52). One illustration (Gnaccolini only describes it) shows Lull giving his book to a cleric dressed in white, obviously a Benedictine. Gnaccolini even identifies the place (p. 88):
...il monastero camaldolese di San Benedetto fuori Porta Pinti ovvero il monastero olivetano di San Miniato al Monte.

(the Camaldolese St. Benedict monastery outside the Porta Pinti or the Olivetano monastery of San Miniato at Monte.)
This Camaldolese monastery was under the jurisdiction of the same Monasterio of Maria dell'Angeli where Ficino occasionally gave lectures, as early as 1469, I see by Googling it. She dates the illustrations to between 1468 and 1471.

If nothing else, the dating of the manuscript, a transcription of 14th century texts, shows an interest in alchemy among the Benedictines and their friends in Florence in the 1460s. It is a logical extension of Traversari's translations of pseudo-Dionysius and so on, about the ascent to God. If the tarot in general at that time (beyond the Sola-Busca) has anything to do with an ascent to God, this manuscript is relevant. It would be of interest to know the origin of the manuscript that this one was copied from. Was it one already owned by the Benedictines there but deteriorating? Or did it come from some other source? One possibility is Barbara of Brandenburg, Marquesa of Mantua. The miniaturist, Giralomo da Cremona (by resemblances to his known work), had illustrated a missal for her, Gnaccolini says. Barbara's father was famous for his sponsorship of texts in spiritual alchemy, notably the Heilege Dreifaeltigkeit.

I found 6 images from this work online: http://www.pcosta.net/ima/lullo2.jpg, http://www.pcosta.net/ima/lullo3.jpg, http://www.pcosta.net/ima/lullo4.jpg, http://www.pcosta.net/ima/lullo5.jpg, http://www.pcosta.net/ima/lullo6.jpg, http://www.pcosta.net/ima/lullo7.jpg. (I got one of these from http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Sola_Bus ... chodenasor, which has a short description of the manuscript.)

One illumination, http://www.pcosta.net/ima/lullo2.jpg, shows a man sowing seeds. Here is the detail:

Image


Another one, with a plow (not part of the previous six), is below.

Image


THE FIRST MANUSCRIPT AND BATONS

Gnaccolini relates them to the cards as "agricultural" imagery. Here is what she says about the suit of Batons. I have added links to Tarotpedia's scans of the cards:
In fact, in addition to the avowedly rural setting (2 of Batons ; fig. 1.66) [http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Image:B02_Sola_Busca.jpg], there is located in card 3 (Fig. 1.67) [http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Image:B03_Sola_Busca.jpg] a clear allusion to secrecy in the transmission of alchemical knowledge (recommended for a long time by pseudo-Lull), of which he became the emblem, his head pierced by three sticks (gold, silver, and mercury?) with his mouth sealed by a garland and the presence of the usual wings of an eagle (the mercury of the philosophers).

To the rural world alludes the gourd of the five of Batons(fig. 1.69 [http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Image:B05_Sola_Busca.jpg], frequently used to transport water, but to an astute reader is immediately reminiscent of the the "cucurbit" (Pereira 2001, p. 59), that is, the alchemical vessel where he realizes the opus, a real gourd used by the alchemist, as appears for example from illustrations of the aforementioned superb Veneto manuscript (Florence, Library Medici Laurentian, Ms. Ashburnam 1166 f. 5r); it appears to govern the sowing of the youth on card 7 (Fig. 1.74 [http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Image:B07_Sola_Busca.jpg]), which now have blossomed as sheaves of grain on the background of the Page (Fig. 1.75 [http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Image:B11_Sola_Busca.jpg]), who carries gold coins in his bag, the result of the opus.
She does not in fact show us f. 5r, to compare the "gourd used by the alchemist" to the gourd on the card. However presumably it is much like the one on f. 4v, which appears next to the card in question:

Image


Here are my questions for Gnaccolini:

In the 2, that it is a rural setting conveys what about the alchemical meaning of the card?

On the 3, what examples are there of a boy with wings on his head as representing an eagle? I might agree that it was alchemical Mercury, but only because Mercury was frequently depicted with wings on his cap, looking as though they were coming out of his head. And what is the alchemical meaning? Is it just to introduce the substance?

On the 5, in alchemy the various processes are produced by heating and cooling, either of solids or liquids. The gourd of the 5 would not work very well; the gourd-shaped vessels in alchemical illustrations are most likely glass. That does not stop the similarly shaped gourd that the youth on card the 5 of batons from being such a vessel. But again, what is the alchemical meaning? What operation? Where is the heat, liquid or smoke?

And is the youth on the 7 bent low because he is sowing or because of his burden? The horizontal lines somewhat suggest furrows, but they are on the 3, too, where they apparently do not.

And what role do the Ace, 4, 6, 8, 9, and 10 play in this interpretation?

There is much missing. Perhaps I can help. The Ace of Batons (http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Image:B01_Sola_Busca.jpg) might represent the peace of Eden before the Fall, since it has a suit of armor without its warrior. The 2 (http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Image:B02_Sola_Busca.jpg) would then be Adam outside Eden looking at what he has lost. The 3 (http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Image:B03_Sola_Busca.jpg) has secrecy and the suffering of life in this world, as well as the important transformative element Mercury. In the 4 (http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Image:B04_Sola_Busca.jpg) we have the guardian of the secret operations, a silent warrior. In the 5 (http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Image:B05_Sola_Busca.jpg), we have the apparatus needed (http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Image:B05_Sola_Busca.jpg); in 6, the fire (http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Image:B06_Sola_Busca.jpg); in 7, the insertion of a crucial ingredient, or perhaps a cooling (http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Image:B07_Sola_Busca.jpg); in 8 the heating (http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Image:B08_Sola_Busca.jpg), in 9 the desired transmutation--crossing a stream as symbolic of transformation--or washing and cooling (http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Image:B09_Sola_Busca.jpg), in 10, waiting for it to mature (http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Image:B10_Sola_Busca.jpg). Well, I am guessing. They correspond to no alchemical images that I know of, but could represent an alchemical process all the same.

THE SECOND MANUSCRIPT

In the suit of Coins/Disc, the images in the second manuscript, an anonymous "Secreta secretorum", Laurenziana Ashburnam 1166, become relevant. As I have said, Gnaccolini situates the artistic style of the illustrations to Padua or Venice in the 1460s, and also one manuscript in the 1480s.

First we need to notice the agricultural motif (from the first manuscript), present also in this suit of Discs.
La donna pingue della carta 4 potrebbe infatti raffigurare la Terra madre dei metalli, che viene ingravidata grazie all'azione dell'alchimista e produce un frutto di perfezione...

(The fat lady of card 4 (http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Image:D04_Sola_Busca.jpg) could in fact be seen as the Earth, mother of metals, who is impregnated by the action of the alchemist and produces a fruit of perfection...)
It seems to me that the lady's four discs would most naturally be taken as the four elements, not metals; they did not come in fours.

Perhaps this card should be seen in the context of one of the alchemical illustrations that she shows from the second manuscript, that of a woman with a tree growing out of her head.

Image


I think that this in fact does represent "producing a fruit of perfection". But since the tree with the fruit grows out of the woman's head, it would appear to be an intellectual impregnation.

I found a discussion of this image in the works of C. G. Jung, who cites a text that seems to relate to the skull. He thinks it is quite old, in its Arabic version no later than the 10th century. What was to be extracted from matter was called the "cogitatio". He continues (Psychology and Alchemy p. 269, paragraphs 375-377):
The "Liber Platonis quartorium" accordingly recommends the use of the occiput (Fig. 135) as the vessel of transformation, because it is the container of thought and intellect. For we need the brain as the seat of the "divine part."
The reason is, as Jung quotes the treatise, that:
the operator must himself participate in the work ("oportet operatorem interesse operi"), "for if the investigator does not remotely possess the likeness [i.e. to the work] he will not climb the height I have described, nor reach the road that leads to the goal."
It is the "causative effect of analogy", Jung explains (p. 270). As in the skull matter is transformed, so by means of his own head the operator is likewise transformed.

However, the lady on the 4, because of her corpulousness, to me does not suggest intellect. I think a better parallel to the alchemical illustration is to trump II POSTUMIO (http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Image:T02_Sola_Busca.jpg). He/she is at least looking at the skull. The tree is perhaps on the shield.

On the next card in Discs, the 5, Gnaccolini finds confirmation of her sexual interpretation of the 4 (impregnation of the fat lady);
Una conferma dell'uso della metafora sessuale come allusione al procedimento alchemico del quattro di denari (fig. 1.44) si esplicita nel cinque di denari (fig. 1.45), dove il ragazzo travestito da uccello (chiaro simbolo sessuale) 85, con un fallo disegnato sullo scudo, rappresenta il compimento dell'opus alchemicum, che si realizza tramite l'azione del calore 86 (il fuoco che gli lambisce un piede).

(A confirmation of the use of the sexual metaphor as allusion to alchemical procedure in the four of Coins (fig. 1.44) is explicit in the five of Coins (fig. 1.45), where the boy disguised as a bird (a clear sexual symbol) (85), with a phallus drawn on the shield, represents the fulfillment of the opus alchemicum, which is realized by the action of heat (86) (the fire that licks his foot).
The card is at http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Image:D05_Sola_Busca.jpg. I would suggest that this card be seen in relation to another illustration from the second manuscript (not shown by Gnaccolini), of a man lying on the ground, similar to the woman (Jung, fig. 131). I expect that they are meant to be Adam and Eve.

Image


Both the card and this illustration have rather conspicuous phallic symbolism. But seeing either man as "fulfillment of the opus alchemicum" is for me a stretch. If it's the fulfillment, what is it doing as number 5 out of 10? To me it might suggest the impregnation that will eventually result in the fulfillment of the work, but it is not yet there.

The 7 (http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Image:D08_Sola_Busca.jpg) shows seven discs in a vase "which symbolizes the seven metals and the seven stages of the work", she says. But 7 has multiple significances, not just in alchemy. Moreover, there is a specific action being depicted. It looks to me like the boy is regulating the heat. It could well be one of the stages in alchemy, that of applying gentle heat.

I would have thought that the 8 of Discs (http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Image:D08_Sola_Busca.jpg) was clearly parallel to the image in the manuscript with the skull and tree. But she skips over it without comment.

In 9, the boy in the fire (http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Image:D09_Sola_Busca.jpg) represents the nigredo, she says, the first step of the process. So is this the beginning of the work? Then what does the 10 represent, which shows a putto putting the last coin into a box that holds 10 (http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Image:B10_Sola_Busca.jpg)? That would seem to be some sort of completion!

She has nothing alchemical to say about the Ace, Two, or Three of Discs. That is probably just as well. Everything is mixed up as it is. But the Ace does show two of the four humors, the melancholy and the sanguine, corresponding to nigredo and rubedo stages of alchemy, making the third putto stand for the third major stage, the Albedo. See Tarotpedia at http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Ace_of_Coins_Sola-Busca). The 2 might show the cooperation between the ruler and the alchemist (Ercole and Michele). The 3 could show the bringing of metallic ore. But again I am guessing; really, the sequence in this suit makes no alchemical sense to me.

Tarotpedia sees a possible allusion in the 3 to the "triple sun" of Ripley's "Scrowle" (http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Three_of ... Sola-Busca), at the bottom of the "Scrowle" and hence at the beginning of the work.

Gnaccolini finds the Cups mostly decorative, although admitting there might be a deeper meaning in some. But she does get an interpretation of the 10 of Cups (http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Image:C10_Sola_Busca.jpg) by comparing it to one of the alchemical illustrations:
Image

In fact she goes so far as to call the man on the card "Hermes Trismegistus". Another from the same manuscript, supposedly the Muslim alchemist "Geber", with a somewhat similar face and beard, is at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Jabir_ibn_Hayyan.jpg.

She also has a wild idea for the 9 of Cups, so wild it's in a footnote, number 96:
se così fosse il tritone della carta 9 potrebbe essere il cuoco Andrea che beve l'acqua dalla fonte miracolosa e si trasforma in un demone marino, conservando un po' di acqua "per comperare con l'immortalità l'amore di Kalè-Bella figlia di Alessandro che diverrà Nereide-Acqueterna, anch'essa immortale divinità del mare", cfr. Centanni 1992, p. 198

(The triton of card 9 could be the cook Andrea who drinks the water of the miraculous spring and is transformed into a water-demon, saving a little water "in order to buy with immortality the love of Kalè-Bella, daughter of Alexander, who will become the nereid Acqueterna, also an immortal divinity of the sea"; see Centanni 1992, p. 198.)
In Swords, she says that the swords on the 3 are gold, silver, and mercury, or (in footnote 81), sulfur, mercury, and salt. I see nothing to suggest such a thing except the number 3 (http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Image:S03_Sola_Busca.jpg). I would have thought it was the Trinity, comparing it to paintings of Augustine's vision of the trinity, especially the one by Fra Lippo Lippi, Florence 1437 (http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-88GjAe5xY3o/T ... tioned.jpg, in color http://www.fineart-china.com/htmlimg/image-32096.ht). The heart, she says, is an alchemical symbol for fire, which presumably melts them down. While the heart is a common religious image, I myself have not seen a heart pictured in alchemy until Jacob Boehme, 1689, where indeed it is associated with fire, probably meaning "burning desire". She cites a 1612 Frankfurt alchemical dictionary,by M. Rulando. She also thinks that the heart has the connotation of a "vital process" and so makes of the alchemical process something alive.

Tarotpedia has found the heart mentioned in Ripley's "Scrowle", in a long passage where "parting in three" is mentioned 18 lines later, referring to the philosopher's stone, which is then "knitted" as a "Trinity": http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Three_of ... Sola-Busca

ALCHEMICAL ALLUSIONS IN THE TRUMPS

In the trumps, Gnaccolini sees alchemical allusions in several cards.

II POSTUMIO (http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Image:T02_Sola_Busca.jpg): he looks at a skull, a symbol of the nigredo. (Yes, it might be that, among other things, e.g. thought and the putrefactio.)

VI SESTO (http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Image:T06_Sola_Busca.jpg) is Mercury, she says. Presumably that is because there are wings on his shoes. If so, she should identify VENTURIO with Mercury, too; he has wings in the same place.

XVI OLIVO has the sun, alchemical gold. She also relates the basilisk at his feet to gold, saying that it represented a substance which in powder form could bring out the gold, a doctrine she finds in the 12th century writer Theolopholus. The basilisk has a negative side as well, which she does not mention. It could kill with its fiery breath, like a dragon.

0. MATO. The crow symbolizes the beginning of the work. This is confirmed by Adam McLean
The phase of Blackening which usually marked the beginning of the work, was brought about either by heating the prima materia in the process of Calcination (the 'dry way' of the alchemists), or by the process of Putrefaction, a slow rotting or digestion over a period of weeks or months (the so-called 'wet way'). The Black Crow or Raven was often associated with this Calcination, for on vigorous heating the calcined material would usually carbonise and layers would flake off and move like a crow's wings in the flask.
The bagpipes, she says, signify music, which works in a way parallel to alchemy. This use of music would seem to be illustrated in the plowing scene of the first manuscript, where a man playing a horn stands on the plow.

She has no comment on the other trumps.

I would add:

0 MATO. The tree is just beginning to grow leaves, again signifying the beginning . The bagpipe might also allude to alchemical vessel.

III. LENPIO (http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Image:T03_Sola_Busca.jpg) might be the lighting or stoking of the fire, preparatory to the work.

IV MARIO (http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Image:T04_Sola_Busca.jpg). The tree with leaves symbolizes growth and life.But the wings on his helmet and the red clothing suggest Mars. I do not know what that would mean alchemically, except some kind of strengthening.

XI TULIO (http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Image:T11_Sola_Busca.jpg), again shows fire.

XIII CATONE (http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Image:T13_Sola_Busca.jpg). The severed head is an alchemical symbol in the Splendor Solis, where the one severing it holds it up as a trophy. I suspect that it has to do with thought, cogitation. But Catone is not holding the head but pinning it to the ground.

XVII. IPEO. Tarotpedia (http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Sola_Busca_Cards:_Ipeo) notes that the wings are similar to those on the hermaphrodite of the Rosarium Philosophorum.
http://www.levity.com/alchemy/rosary5.html.

XX NENBROTO, XXI NEBUCHODENAZOR. I have discussed their symbolism in my previous post.

CONCLUSION

I see no systematic progression of alchemical stages in the suits, except possibly for Batons, or in the trump sequence, although a few are in the right place to be in an alchemical sequence--0 MATO, II POSTUMIO, III LENPIO, XVI OLIVO, XX NENBROTO, XXI NEBUCHODENAZOR. In contrast, the "Marseille" trumps seem to me abundantly interpretable in terms of alchemy, as I have explained in the "Tarot and Alchemy" thread, even though they have no inherently alchemical imagery whatever. It seems to me that the few clear alchemical allusions in the Sola-Busca there are have probably been put in to create the illusion of a hidden alchemical meaning to the sequences when in fact there is none. However I could well be missing something.

Gnaccolini has one amusing tidbit (footnote 98) that I cannot resist passing on: the man on the 2 of Batons might have been a caricature of Cosimo de' Medici the Elder, she suggests (http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Image:B02_Sola_Busca.jpg). Compare to his portraits: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosimo_de%27_Medici. It is believable.

That to me is another sign that the inspiration for the Sola-Busca might have come from Florence. The other signs are the Fra Lippo Lippi inspiration of the 3 of Swords, a Lullian manuscript in the right social context from the late 1460s, the required knowledge of Roman history (Poliziano was the expert), and the off-color playfulness that is characteristic of Florentine carnival songs in the time of Lorenzo. But it could also be a product of one of the Academies in other cities, i.e. Rome or Naples, or humanists in Bologna, Ferrara, or Venice.

More on the alchemical Last Judgment

#5
This is a continuation of the post before last, posting.php?mode=reply&f=11&t=988#pr14772. I want to suggest a scriptural basis for Lazzarelli's alchemical interpretation of "conjunction of a body with a body", which produces the philosopher's stone and which in the texts he transcribes is the alchemical equivalent of the Last Judgment. I have in mind an allegorical interpretation of 1st Corinthians 15 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?se ... on=VULGATE, http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?se ... ersion=DRA):
51 ecce mysterium vobis dico omnes quidem resurgemus sed non omnes inmutabimur
52 in momento in ictu oculi in novissima tuba canet enim et mortui resurgent incorrupti et nos inmutabimur
53 oportet enim corruptibile hoc induere incorruptelam et mortale hoc induere inmortalitatem
54 cum autem mortale hoc induerit inmortalitatem tunc fiet sermo qui scriptus est absorta est mors in victoria

51. Behold, I tell you a mystery. We shall all indeed rise again: but we shall not all be changed.
52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall rise again incorruptible: and we shall be changed.
53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption; and this mortal must put on immortality.
54 And when this mortal hath put on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory.
St. Paul has been discussing the resurrection of the body. There are two parts, the corruptible body and the mortal something else, which I think is the soul. The purified body unites with the purified soul. The soul itself has a body, in Hermeticism, a "subtle" body. It is the "virgin earth" with the original Adam, purified through the grace of God.

Might it be possible to have the Last Judgment in the present, through art and God's grace? There is an earlier passage which the alchemists would have found meaningful:
36 insipiens tu quod seminas non vivificatur nisi prius moriatur
37 et quod seminas non corpus quod futurum est seminas sed nudum granum ut puta tritici aut alicuius ceterorum
38 Deus autem dat illi corpus sicut voluit et unicuique seminum proprium corpus
39 non omnis caro eadem caro sed alia hominum alia pecorum alia caro volucrum alia autem piscium
40 et corpora caelestia et corpora terrestria sed alia quidem caelestium gloria alia autem terrestrium
41 alia claritas solis alia claritas lunae et alia claritas stellarum stella enim ab stella differt in claritate
42 sic et resurrectio mortuorum seminatur in corruptione surgit in incorruptione

36 Senseless man, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die first.
37 And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not the body that shall be; but bare grain, as of wheat, or of some of the rest.
38 But God giveth it a body as he will: and to every seed its proper body.
39 All flesh is not the same flesh: but one is the flesh of men, another of beasts, another of birds, another of fishes.
40 And there are bodies celestial, and bodies terrestrial: but, one is the glory of the celestial, and another of the terrestrial.
41 One is the glory of the sun, another the glory of the moon, and another the glory of the stars. For star differeth from star in glory.
42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption, it shall rise in incorruption.
Why does St. Paul go on about all these types of body, not just of the animals in water, air, and earth, but of the fiery bodies of sun, moon, and stars? This is the same St. Paul who in 2nd Corinthians talks about the man who ascended to the third heaven, whether in the body or out he did not know, and heard things it is not permissible to utter.

The soul's purification is reflected in an allegorical ascent through the heavens; but the body is perhaps left behind. I think the alchemists' idea is that the body, too, can be purified, by God's grace, in the present, by passage through the regimens of the various lesser metals, corresponding to the lesser planets, up to that of gold, the rubedo, corresponding to the sun. The Star, Moon, and Sun cards would represent these stages of the Work, the seven ages of the world in one brief span of time. Then by the parallel of the philosopher's stone to Christ, contact with the stone would give long life in the flesh to one whose soul is also purified. So the "conjunction of a body with a body" (or in a body) might be that of the stone with the mortal body of a human, or it might be the conjunction of the purified body with the purified soul.

Well, that would likely have been one interpretation, it seems to me. I have read somewhere, I think in Humfrey and Lucco's Dosso Dossi, that Ercole d'Este was given gold mixed with liquid the evening before his death. That would have been on order of his physician, who was not by then Michele Savonarola but also alchemically inclined. Gold is not the stone, evidently.

Re: How eccentric is the Sola-Busca?

#7
On a visit to Italy in October, I saw in Florence the book "Secret of Secrets" that was in the Brera's exhibition. It was in the Academia Gallery (in Florence), open to two pages near the beginning. One of them was the same as a page repreoduced in the Brera's exhibition catalog, so it is clearly the same book (as the manuscript number also indicates). The other page was also an illumination, and it was not reproduced in the Brera catalog. So I give you both pages below:



I have discussed the image on the left already at length. The image on the right is new to me. It would seem to be a representation of alchemical Mercury as a devil: the figure resembles the astrological sign for the planet. The flask of transformation is configured like a bagpipes. In the Sola-Busca, that corresponds to the Mato, card 0. It is also like the Fool card of the Leber.

Of interest also the artist to whom these illuminations are given:



This information is consistent with what I reported earlier, that according to Gnaccolini the style is Paduan-Venetian of the 1460s, but also corresponds to the watercolors in an illuminated printed Petrarch Trionfi/Canzioniere of Venice 1488. But she didn't go so far as to name a specific artist (viewtopic.php?f=11&t=988&p=15884#p14771).

If the artist is Venetian, what is it doing in the Laurenziana? It is possible that the manuscript was produced in Florence, with the artist coming there at the time. Also, the text might have been done in Florence and the illuminations in Venice: it was a common practice to do the two parts in different places. Most likely, however, both parts were done in Venice, and the book acquired later. Since one of the 16th century Medici "grand dukes" was a practicing alchemist (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francesco_ ... of_Tuscany), that is the likeliest alternative. That of course puts it very much in the ambit of the Sola-Busca and Leber decks, as well as of the interests shown in Lazzarelli's later works.

Re: How eccentric is the Sola-Busca?

#8
mikeh wrote:

I have discussed the image on the left already at length. The image on the right is new to me. It would seem to be a representation of alchemical Mercury as a devil: the figure resembles the astrological sign for the planet. The flask of transformation is configured like a bagpipes. In the Sola-Busca, that corresponds to the Mato, card 0. It is also like the Fool card of the Leber.
Neither Mercury nor devil, but satyr/Pan - the bagpipes have been arranged as that demigod's reed instrument. And I would mine the material in the contemporary Hypnerotomachia.

https://www.academia.edu/4573572/Hortus ... ilos_Dream

Some relevant sections from the link above:
"...in the sculpted tableau to a characterization of the Greek Pan or the Latin Silvanus
as “the god of the countryside, who was formed in the likeness of Nature; whence he is called ‘Pan’, that is,
‘All’.” 77 Isidore, who follows Porphyry, portrays this nature deity like a hieroglyph of the universe,
fashioned from images of all its elements. Each horn is formed in the likeness of the rays of the sun and
moon; his pelt with its distinctive speckles represents the starry heavens; the seven reeds of his pan-pipes
represent the seven tones of the celestial harmony, and so on.78 Porphyry confirms the dynamic of the
fertile goddess..."

"The process of internalizing the subject is not unlike how love imports the image of the beloved into the soul, once the vision has established desire. And love is the transformative principle, according to Ovid, which lies at the
basis of art; Pan’s love doubly transforms the nymph Syrinx: first into a natural object, the Reed, and then
into the musical instrument of art, the Pan-pipes."

My 2 cents: there is the celestial harmony of the spheres from Plato/Cicero and then there is the earthly desire embodied in the sensual music of materia/Pan (so I would argue Pan's reed is not wholly celestial but rather a "totality" per his name - inclusive of the earth). The body is pulled siren-like to earth while the celestial beckons upwards....but that duality is lost in Pan, a massa confusa with no up or down. One could argue that the Sola Busca's highest card points to that theme, with the starry skein about a dragon, the latter representing the "confusa" (its not biting its tail as a symbol of eternity, but rather at the king's head)...
Image


Finally, note that our King holds his scepter at an angle suspiciously close to that of the angle of the ecliptic, juxtaposed aganst the armillary's vertical/polar and and equatorial bands, like a would-be-Phaethon (a myth of earthly confusion).
Image

Re: How eccentric is the Sola-Busca?

#9
Phaeded wrote: My 2 cents: there is the celestial harmony of the spheres from Plato/Cicero and then there is the earthly desire embodied in the sensual music of materia/Pan (so I would argue Pan's reed is not wholly celestial but rather a "totality" per his name - inclusive of the earth). The body is pulled siren-like to earth while the celestial beckons upwards....but that duality is lost in Pan, a massa confusa with no up or down. One could argue that the Sola Busca's highest card points to that theme, with the starry skein about a dragon, the latter representing the "confusa" (its not biting its tail as a symbol of eternity, but rather at the king's head)...
Image
Nebukadnezar had a dragon at the Ishtar Gate.

Image

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ishtar_Gate

Further "Draco" had a role as a star picture, and Babylon war known for its influence on the astronomy and astrology.
Image

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Draco_(constellation)

Dragonhead and dragontail were expressions in medieval geomancy, which was popular around 1500. Agrippa knew it.
I don't find anther contemporary picture with dragon + Nebukadnezar, but we see on the card a circle filled with stars and this should indicate astronomy (see Mantegna Tarocchi).
The position is "last and highest card" and this shouldn't be a bad theme for this role.

Image
Huck
http://trionfi.com

Re: How eccentric is the Sola-Busca?

#10
Phaeded wrote,
Neither Mercury nor devil, but satyr/Pan - the bagpipes have been arranged as that demigod's reed instrument..
The reason I said "Mercury" was that the horns and body/pipes emulate the astrological sign for Mercury:
Image

And after all, this is a book on alchemy. But yes, Pan had his pan-pipes and as nature is a suitable symbol for the beginning of the work. I thought they were pipes of varying lengths, as pictured at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pan_%28god%29, but your putti from the Hypnerotmacha do suggest that bagpipes were included, at least in end-of-century Venice, from which the book, too, comes, somewhat earlier.

So we have a bagpipe player at the beginning of the Work, and at the end a dragon, among the stars but also confined there, behind bars, at least temporarily. Here is Jung on Mercury (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychology_and_Alchemy)
Mercurius stands at the beginning and end of the work: he is the prima materia, the caput corvi, the nigredo; as dragon he devours himself and as dragon he dies, to rise again in the lapis. He is the play of colours in the cauda pavonis and the division into the four elements. He is the hermaphrodite that was in the beginning, that splits into the classical brother-sister duality and is reunited in the coniunctio, to appear once again at the end in the radiant form of the lumen novum, the stone. He is metallic yet liquid, matter yet spirit, cold yet fiery, poison and yet healing draught - a symbol uniting all the opposites." (Part 3, Chapter 3.1).
I do not know Pan as an image employed by the alchemists early on. Nothing comes up for me on Google. Mercury, however, was omnipresent, and the context of the image that I photographed is definitely alchemical. Jung mentions the hermaphrodite. The hermaphrodite of the tarot, as of the Church, is the Devil, another image of alchemical Mercury.

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