Huck, I read with pleasure your story about Mantegna. Yes, it's possible that Mantegna developed an idea for Marcello's deck and didn't get a chance to carry it out. Then he goes to Ferrara, maybe talks to people there about it, who knows? And helps it along later, as I've already suggested. Mantegna designed very "Mantegna"-like Muses for his tomb, or so its' said, as I mentioned at the end of my first post in this thread. I don't go with 1475 and Lazarelli, of course, but the rest, why not? I already knew the story about Mantegna roughing up the rival engravers: the Renaissance equivalent of copyright protection.
On the "backwards N": it seems to me that it is precisely because lettering is so difficult, that it is easier to make a mistake in lettering than in punching. I would guess that the "VENUS" with a backwards N that you showed was engraved rather than punched. I don't see any backwards N's in the 1978 Ptolemy--but then I don't see any mistakes at all. How did they do that? In the handcut 1482 Berlinghieri Geographia
sample that Campbell exhibits in the Internet piece, a crudely erased mistake shows up like a black eye.
Yesterday I finally read Hind's 1938 thoughts on the "Mantegna" and the 1478 Rome Ptolemy, in the book that Trionfi cites. The small college where I went to school, about 5 miles from where I live, has copies of all 7 or so volumes of the original 1938 Early Italian Engravings
.The page opposite the title page says that it is one of 325 copies (or some such number) printed for sale. Not only that, the college's copy of one volume is signed by the author, as the "special collections" librarian proudly showed me. In former days an expert on calligraphy named Lloyd Reynolds (whom I name here in gratitude) taught there. The reproductions of the "Mantegna" images are fairly high quality; I intend to study them further, and the librarian said he could scan some for me. But for now, I just asked him to copy what Hind wrote. So last night I read, with an occasional break to watch the Olympics.
I was impressed both by his thoroughness and by his general conformity to my way of thinking, allowing for a few out of date arguments. He begins by saying that the style is Ferrarese, and asking, could any of known artists of Ferrara have designed the cards? He starts with del Cossa. Here is his the beginning of his text:
I am not sure what facial expressions of "harsh intensity" he is referring to in the cards: the Emperor, perhaps. It has been known since 1885 that del Cossa only claimed credit for March, April, and May. The Triumph of Venus is the upper part of April, and Mercury that of June. Different historians have seen resemblances to the cards in nearly every section of the Schifanoia. That led Tyson (see reference in my first post) to suppose that the card-designer was the same as the Schifanoia as a whole, who was not a famous artist, but nonetheless had an important position at court. Tyson suggested Gherardo da Vicenza, the maker of triumph cards and a skilled decorator of palaces. Another alternative, as I have said--although not one that any historian has proposed--is that the designer of the Schifanoia, c. 1469-1471, used the cards themselves as inspiration for particular figures throughout the project.
Next Hind considers Gombosi's and Clark's idea of Angelo Parrasio, the painter that Leonello put in charge of the Belfiore Muse project. Here is what Hind says:
(Added later: I didn't originally get this text to post. But Huck said what my mistake was, and now it's corrected.) What pleases me in this paragraph is that Hind picks out the same three standing Muses as I did in my initial post: first the Polymnia (which was called "Autumn" in 1938), although what he calls attention to is the background; and the two in Budapest, both "near as can be to the Muses themselves in the engravings." But Angelo could not have designed the engravings, Hind reasons, because he died in 1456, and "it seems difficult, on technical grounds, to place the engravings before 1460, and I think 'about 1465' a more probable date." But few historians today identify the artist of any of the three as Angelo; instead they say "anonymous Ferrarese," as I explained in my initial post. Gombosi was misled by Cosme Tura's repainting, which was only revealed under x-ray analysis. Galasso, whom Venturi proposed as the engravings' designer, died sometime between 1470 (Venturi) and 1488 (the 1871 translator's suggestion, absurd if he was evaluating other artists' work in 1451). Vasari said he died at age 50; if he was 30 in 1450, he would be 50 in 1470. Nonetheless "this group of painters [i.e. the Belfiore artists] exercised considerable influence" on "our engraver." Oddly, I think, Hind sometimes talks about "designer" and "engraver" as distinct persons, and sometimes drops the "designer" category. But most of the time there are two persons: one is the artist, the other a technician who renders the artist's work in copper. Hence a design, it seems to me, could outlive its designer and be rendered in a technically later engraving.
Not seeing any candidates among the master-painters, Hind turns to [added later: the miniaturists and] the designers of cards and other decorative items. [Added later: Although he thinks the miniaturists are more probable as designers of the "Mantegna" than the painters of larger works, he finds the style of those in Ferrara more like the "true tarocchi" than the Mantegna.} Of the card-makers,:he thinks they are the most likely to have designed the "Mantegna." In the selection below, I go to the end of Hind's discussion, in which he not only discusses the designer but makes his by-now famous suggestion as to the engraver. You will notice that the name of Gherardo da Vicenza appears again, along with some others. Hind will not pick one of the bunch on insufficient grounds! Start on the fifth line below.
So now we turn to the engraver, which Trionfi quotes in their section "Hind's final suggestion" at http://trionfi.com/0/m/00/
. Hind suggests that the same engraver did both the 1478 Ptolemy map and the "Mantegna" engravings, based on "the precise cutting of the maps" and the "representation of forests and hills."
Now let me turn to Trionfi on this suggestion. One thing I noticed is that Trionfi omitted a comma when it quoted this "final suggestion." This is of course a minor point, but the comma does help in understanding what Hind is saying. Another thing is that Trionfi seems to have missed Hind's indication that he has not yet said everything: he says "see G2." So let us go to Hind's section G2, which starts on p. 189. I am not going to reproduce the whole page, but there is one paragraph about Sweynheim (despite Trionfi's expression of disappointment that he appears not to have known about him). After quoting the Latin preface to the 1478 Rome Ptolemy, Hind says:
The other paragraph is on pp. 190-191. After discussing the 1477 Bologna Ptolemy he turns to the 1478 Rome Ptolemy. Here is the paragraph:
So Hind's "final suggestion" is that Sweynheim had met the engraver of the Tarocchi on his way from Germany in 1465 and recruited him later, in the 1470's to do the engravings of the Ptolemy, for which Sweynheim did the printing. Sweynheim, according to Hind, was a printer, not an engraver.
We again have the same argument as before, but in slightly different wordst. There are two distinctive features possessed by both the "Mantegna" and the 1478 Rome Ptolemy that lead Hind to his conclusion: first, the "purity and precision" of the engraving, "of both maps and lettering"; and second, "the symbolic representation of natural features, forests, and mountains."
Scholarly consensus now is that Hind was probably wrong in thinking that Sweynheim came to Italy in 1465 (just when the "Mantegna" happened to be published!). He probably came in 1462 or 1463 and set up his printing press in 1464. But this is a minor matter. Sweynheim could have learned about a Ferrarese--or Bolognese or Venetian--engraver from seeing the cards, either in Rome or being sent them from his fellow German printers in one of these cities, or from some other source, such as Lazarelli. "Hind's error," if there is an important one, is something else.
Hind's error, according to Trionfi, was in not knowing that the engraver of the 1478 Ptolemy was in fact either Sweynheim, who would have been engraving before his death in 1475-1477, or his "pupil" Buckinck. Trionfi says,
Hind comes in his analyses to the conclusion, that the "unknown" engraver of the Ptolemy maps, produced 1473 - 1478 in Rome, was likely also the engraver of the Mantegna Tarocchi. However, the engraver of the Ptolemy is not "unknown", generally it is assumed, that they were made either by Sweynheim or his "unknown pupil" Arnold Bucking.
But was Hind really wrong? Where is it "generally assumed" that Sweynheim was an engraver, who then taught Buckinck? What is the argument? Tony Campbell, Map Librarian at the British Library, says in the course of discussing the letter punches:
Skelton has shown that Sweynheym developed the technique [of punches] during preparation of the maps for the 1478 Rome Ptolemy, since the three years Sweynheym spent giving 'instruction in the method of printing from copper plates' were unlikely to hve been concerned with engraving, about which he could have had little specialized knowledge. Skelton's persuasive interpretation is that Sweynheym was referring to what seems to have been a double achievement: the development of a practical alternative to handcut lettering and an improvement in the strength and consistency of the impression taken from the finished plates.((The Earliest Printed Maps: 1472-1500, 1987, p. 223f).
If Sweynheym wasn't an engraver, then he couldn't have taught Buckinck. Buckinck was most likely a printer like Sweynheim. The engraver remains unknown.
Campbell's reference is to Raleigh Skelton, a printing historian who probably knew, when he was alive, as much about Sweynheim as anyone else in his day. He edited the 1966 Amsterdam facsimile edition of the Rome Ptolemy; in its Introduction is the "persuasitve argument" to which Campbell refers. As it happens, the library at my local state university has the book, and I made a copy of the introduction (as well as some forests and mountains in the maps). The argument takes him a couple of pages to present. I will do my best, but it will have to be in another post, because I want to get it right and think about it, too. At the moment, I question some of it. And Skelton says specifically that he is going against the standard view. That is why I would like to know why some historians think Sweynheim was an engraver, Huck.