Who's in the Chariot?

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Who's in the Chariot?

Postby robert on 07 Apr 2008, 02:16

When I first started studying Tarot History, I was delighted to find a female charioteer on the Visconti cards.

This is the Chariot for the Cary-Yale Visconti:
Image

Distorted Detail:
Image

This made sense to me, as at the time I was playing with the idea that the Chariot might be related to the "Triumph of Chastity" from Petrarch's triumphs.

The Visconti-Sforza charioteer:

Image

Now, it's interesting to note that the Visconti-Sforza horses have wings, which pushes this card into the realm of fantasy, mythology, and ideology.

Both figures hold a staff in one hand. The Visconti-Sforza holds an orb in the other, much like typical iconography for the Empress, and in later decks, also similar to the figure at the top of the Wheel of Fortune.

I'm not sure what I am seeing on the Cary-Yale card, and would really love to hear your thoughts on what is held in her other hand. Is that a dove in the center? Is this a "Visconti device"?

Why would there be a female charioteer if this is considered a "Triumphal Chariot"? Isn't usually returning soldiers who had triumphal parades?

Who is in the Chariot?
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Re: Who's in the Chariot?

Postby robert on 07 Apr 2008, 02:38

The Chariot from the museum of Ursino Castle, in Catania (Sicily) is related to the "Visconti" tarots, but this one is from the "Tarot of Alessandro Sforza", who was Francesco Sforza's brother.
Image

This image is interesting because it is, to my eye, so similar to the Chariot later to appear in the Marseille Tarots. It's interesting to note that the horses are looking in opposite directions, but it seems that they are doing so because they are actually looking at two valet barely discernible on either side of the card. This is similar perhaps to the single valet holding the horse on the Cary-Yale Visconti.

Now, the Charioteer is standing.

I can't tell if there is a canopy or not; but if it is just a border, it reminds me of one. The way the white lines come down on the edges, it looks like a canopy, but there are also lines coming up from the bottom, so maybe it is just a border after all. The card on the Rosenwald Sheet does indeed show a similar standing Charioteer in a "wagon" with no canopy.

And what of the sex? Is the Charioteer a male or female? Judging by the clothes, I'd guess it's a man. He holds an orb in one hand, and (I think) a staff in the other. I'm not sure what the balls going in a ring around his waist represent? They remind me of the string of bells found on the "Charles VI" Fool.

Who is in the Chariot?
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Re: Who's in the Chariot?

Postby robert on 07 Apr 2008, 02:51

Here is the Chariot from the Rosenwald sheet that I mentioned above. This is an early woodblock card, probably over 500 years old!

Image

Here the Charioteer has gained the crown familiar to the Marseille Tarots. He holds the orb, but the "staff" here is presented as a sword. There is no canopy on this card, and the charioteer is standing. It's amusing to see the struggle the artist had showing both wheels, he seems to have taken some liberties.

(Yeah.. I know this is getting old... but...) Who is in the Chariot?
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Re: Who's in the Chariot?

Postby robert on 07 Apr 2008, 03:28

Here we have the so-called "Charles VI Tarot" Chariot.

Image

Here an armored figure is standing, but is on a platform. I think there can be little doubt that this is a man. The hat reminds me of the Ursino Castle card.

The figure appears to be holding an orb in front of him. There is a sword hilt on his side and a bit surprisingly, a battle ax in his hand!

The white horses pull in opposite directions, also like the Ursino card; but here there is no sign of valets.

Around the "platform" are "scalloped' "flags" that remind me of the trim on "Tarot de Marseille I" style Marseille Tarots like the Jean Dodal:

Image
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Re: Who's in the Chariot?

Postby robert on 07 Apr 2008, 07:24

Here's the Chariot from the Rothschild collection.

Image

The Charioteer sits on a pedestal. In one hand he holds an orb, in the other a short sword. The wings on his head suggest an association with Mercury.

A most likely related sheet of cards is from the collection of Bibliotheque de l'Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. On this sheet a figure (again, most likely Mercury) stands atop the World.
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Re: Who's in the Chariot?

Postby OnePotato on 07 Apr 2008, 15:15

le pendu wrote:.......Now, it's interesting to note that the Visconti-Sforza horses have wings, which pushes this card into the realm of fantasy, mythology, and ideology......


Well, perhaps I'm just the simple guy who paints your woodwork, but...

Don't wings push 'um up in the air?

Oh wellllllll....
I'm off to the cellar to mutter something about Apollo's kid scorching the world while I clean my brushes...
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Re: Who's in the Chariot?

Postby mjhurst on 07 Apr 2008, 15:21

Hi, Robert,

le pendu wrote:When I first started studying Tarot History, I was delighted to find a female charioteer on the Visconti cards.

This made sense to me, as at the time I was playing with the idea that the Chariot might be related to the "Triumph of Chastity" from Petrarch's triumphs.

Now, it's interesting to note that the Visconti-Sforza horses have wings, which pushes this card into the realm of fantasy, mythology, and ideology.

Why would there be a female charioteer if this is considered a "Triumphal Chariot"? Isn't usually returning soldiers who had triumphal parades?

Who is in the Chariot?

This is one of the most interesting Chariots. A female driver seems infinitely more appropriate for an allegory of Triumph, just as a woman takes the place of Sampson/Hercules in allegories of Fortitude or Strength. The idea that, in this particular deck, the Chariot was conflated with Chastity is also a good one. Plato's chariot of the soul is another possible allegorical reading which some have suggested.

Of the nature of the soul, though her true form be ever a theme of large and more than mortal discourse, let me speak briefly, and in a figure. And let the figure be composite -- a pair of winged horses and a charioteer. Now the winged horses and the charioteers of the gods are all of them noble and of noble descent, but those of other races are mixed; the human charioteer drives his in a pair; and one of them is noble and of noble breed, and the other is ignoble and of ignoble breed; and the driving of them of necessity gives a great deal of trouble to him.

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Re: Who's in the Chariot?

Postby Ross G. R. Caldwell on 08 Apr 2008, 09:05

Don't forget the Chariot discovered in the late 80s and now in the Musée Français de la Carte à Jouer in Issy-les-Moulineaux (referred to as the "Issy Chariot") -
http://www.issy.com/musee/ct3.htm

Image

Thierry Depaulis identified this card as belonging with the Warsaw museum cards (Kaplan I, 109), and dates to about 1450, Ferrara.

It is much less overtly "mythological", unless the two different colored horses represent that they have different "natures".

There is a canopy over her head. It's tempting to consider it a "marriage" chariot, with all the symbolism that implies (after love, comes marriage, hence chastity/modesty, good qualities in a wife). For what it's worth, Bianca Maria was married in red, "her zodiacal color" (as noted by Pizzagalli - BM was an Aries. Leonello is also noted as considering the color of the planet for the day of the week in choosing his clothing, so symbolism like this might really be present). I don't know if this is Bianca Maria, but the clothing is outstandingly red.

She's holding an orb and a sword, in order to say "Be nice to me or I'll cut your balls off."

It's hard to interpret the gestures of the four girls around the main figure on the chariot.

Ross
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Re: Who's in the Chariot?

Postby robert on 08 Apr 2008, 10:14

Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote:Don't forget the Chariot discovered in the late 80s and now in the Musée Français de la Carte à Jouer in Issy-les-Moulineaux (referred to as the "Issy Chariot")


WOW! Thank you for posting this Ross. I'm not sure if I knew about it before, but I'm really struck by it. Fantastic image.

When I saw it, I immediately noticed the whips in the valets' hands. I was going to post the unknown "Parisian" tarot from the early 1600s at some point in this thread, but now it seems even more relevant:

Image

This card is older than the Noblet, or the Vieville, or any existing Marseille Tarot.

Here the chariot is drawn by birds (swans? geese?) Like the Sforza-Visconti, the subject seems allegorical.
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Re: Who's in the Chariot?

Postby robert on 08 Apr 2008, 10:38

I jumped the timeline gun a bit with the last post; jumping over the Geofrey Catelin tarot from 1557.

Image

I've seen this charioteer described as "a philosopher". I don't know.

Again, we have a valet holding the horse, and... is that a whip in this image as well?
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