Decker's new book

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Re: Decker's new book

Postby mikeh on 28 Mar 2014, 01:16

Thanks for your careful and modest scholarship, Kate. For the record, here is another Medici "Valencian" vase that suggests the use of the seven palle. I get the image from Art and Love in Renaissance Italy, Metropolitan Museum NY, 2008. p. 69.
Image
Of it Dora Thornton says (p. 68; I am omitting the footnotes):
Within the garland are the arms of Medici impaling Orsini, representing a marriage alliance between the two families. The arms could refer to one of two marriages: that of Lorenzo de' Medici to Clarice Orsini in 1469, or that of Piero de' Medici to Alfonsina Orsini in 1487. The "jar with two handles and the arms of Medici and Orsini" that is listed among the contents of the Medici villa at Poggio a Caiano in 1494 must be this vase.

And:
Of the two marriages between the Medici and the Orsini, it is likely that the first, between Lorenzo de' Medici and Clarice Orsini in 1469, is the one referred to on this vase. The fleur-de-lis design was fashionable among the Tuscan elite into the early 1470s, and the rather awkward air of the vase suggests that it is an early example of the efforts of Italian potters, beginning about 1450, to imitate Spanish prototypes. It was certainly made in Tuscany, most probably in Montelupo, where potters experimented in imitating Spanish lustered imports.

The "fleur-de-lis" refers to the Valencian-style leaf decoration. Thornton says:
Both the Islamic-inspired form and the lead decoration, known to Tuscans as "fiora-lixi (fleur-de-lis), derive from Spanish lustered pottery imported from Valencia.

I am not sure which vase is the one you posted. If it is a famous one in the British Museum, dated 1465-92, due to the arms of either Piero or his son Lorenzo, then Thornton has this interesting, although to me confusing, thing to say:
The use of the lustered "ivy leaf" motif on the British Museum vase may narrow the dating to approximately 1465-1470, since it was about 1470 that this design superceded the leaf design in blue that from the 1420s had dominated Tuscan taste.

If the "ivy leaf" superceded the "fleur-de-lis" design in 1470, I don't understand why that means that the British Museum vase was from before then, since it has the "ivy leaf".
mikeh
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Location: Oregon USA
Favorite Deck: Conver/Noblet & Sola-Busca pips

Re: Decker's new book

Postby mikeh on 30 Mar 2014, 04:40

I need to add something to my previous post. Thornton says that Valencian vases with the blue six-petaled flowers were imported early on in the 15th century, as shown in a "perhaps 1444" or "ca. 1444" Florentine cassone painting (now in Berlin) illustrating the myth of Cupid and Psyche, with just such vases on a shelf in the background.

Image

If so, one might wonder why the actual Valencian-style vase she pictures (reproduced in my previous post) would use such an old-fashioned design, one already superceded by the ivy-leaf design of "1465-70" (as in the vase that Kate showed us), and so whether in fact it might be earlier than the 1469 marriage, despite the combined coat of arms on it.

In reply, Thornton says only that the "awkward" style of the vase indicates Florentine manufacture, which began imitating Valencian productions around 1450. That is not much help in dating the vase to 1469.

In fact Thornton's dating of the cassone painting to 1444 is contradicted by another essay later in the same volume, by a different author who emphatically states that it is of the 1470s. Deborah L. Krohn says of them on p. 293f of Art and Love in Renaissance Italy:
Previously believed to have been painted much earlier (2), these cassone panels were dated convincingly by Everett Fahy to 1475. ...
___________________________
2. Vertova (ibid. [Luisa Vertova, "Cupid and Psyche in Renaissance Painting before Raphael," Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 42 (1979), pp. 104-21], following several others, as given in Fahy 1989 [Everett Fahy, "The Argonaut Master," Gazette des beaux-arts, 6th ser., 114 (December, 1989), pp. 285-300], p. 297, n. 19) points to the Medici emblem on Cupid's house and speculates that these two panels may have been created for the 1444 wedding of Lucrezia Tornabuoni and Piero Il Gottoso, son of of Cosimo de' Medici, Pater Patriae, the parents of Lorenzo de' Medici, Il Magnifico, but the later dating definitively refutes this. The erroneous speculation is repeated in Vertova 1993 ["La fortuna della favola di Psyche da Cosimo Pater Patriae al Gran Principe Ferdinando de' Medici," in Giuseppe Maria Crespi nei musei fiorentini pp. 27-62, Gli Uffizi, Studi e ricerchi II, Esh. cat., Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence], p. 28.

Krohn might have added, but for courtesy to her colleague, that the error is repeated also by Thornton in the present volume. (Fahy himself, another contributor, in his pieces, even more courteously says nothing on the subject.)

I notice that Sonia Cavicchiolli in The Tale of Cupid and Psyche, an Illustrated History (Milan 2002) says, p. 66:
Two pairs of wedding chests illustrating the story of Psyche are known. They are products of the Florentine school, most likely made in the last quarter of the fifteenth century. The first pair, attributed convincingly to the Master of the Argonauts and datable to about 1475, is now at the Gemaeldgalerie of Berlin (figs. 35. 36); a small panel in the Lanckoronski collection in Krakow has been recognized as one of the ends (fig. 37) (20)

The footnote cites Vertova 1979 and Fahy 1989, crediting Vertova with the identification of the wing in Krakow. Her reproduction of the Berlin panels includes the same detail with the vases as in the panel that Thornton identifies as "perhaps 1444". Unfortunately the detail of the Medici emblem on Cupid's house is poorly reproduced (see link below to Cavicchioli p. 70). It might be of interest. I assume it is reproduced by Vertova.

If in fact the Berlin panels are 1475 or thereabouts, that goes to support the claim that the 7-palle coat of arms, half of which is on the wedding vase I pictured, is after 1465. That is when vases with such fleur-de-lis petals were fashionable. (Actually, I can't tell from the reproduction what they are, fleur-de-lis, ivy leaves, or what, and I wonder if they can be on the cassone itself. If not, the cassone panel is rather worthless for determining what was in fashion in the 1470s.)

Since the tale of Cupid and Psyche is one of those works in which I find a parallel structure to that of the tarot sequence (see the Appendix to my post at http://www.associazioneletarot.it/page.aspx?id=322#), these cassone paintings are of some interest to me. The style of the Berlin panels looks to me similar to some cassone paintings of Petrarch's Triumphs, namely those attributed to Pesellino, usually dated to c. 1450; why Fahy dates the Psyche panels to 1475 is something I have to investigate. Here are the Berlins, bigger than my scanner but enough to indicate the style.
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-XdtEo4NzqIY/U ... ioli70.JPG
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-faDFj88EsXw/U ... ioli71.JPG
which I find similar to Pesellino, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File: ... -death.jpg
and http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File: ... ernity.JPG

The other Psyche panels are by Jacopo del Sellaio and workshop (scroll down at http://www.thecityreview.com/metital.html); he, too, did Petrarch Triumph cassoni, of which Cavicchioli shows his Triumph of Love and Chastity (on the web at http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File: ... 0-1485.JPG). They, however, all look like 1470s-1480s work, easy to recognize because of their similarity to Botticelli. As to the others, clearly I have some studying to do.
mikeh
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Location: Oregon USA
Favorite Deck: Conver/Noblet & Sola-Busca pips

Re: Decker's new book

Postby Kate on 30 Mar 2014, 05:27

Hi Mike,

Appealing to my vanity, huh? You devil . . .

I am not sure which vase is the one you posted. If it is a famous one in the British Museum, dated 1465-92, due to the arms of either Piero or his son Lorenzo, then Thornton has this interesting, although to me confusing, thing to say:

“The use of the lustered "ivy leaf" motif on the British Museum vase may narrow the dating to approximately 1465-1470, since it was about 1470 that this design superceded the leaf design in blue that from the 1420s had dominated Tuscan taste.”

If the "ivy leaf" superceded the "fleur-de-lis" design in 1470, I don't understand why that means that the British Museum vase was from before then, since it has the "ivy leaf".


Yes, the vase I cited earlier is, indeed, the one now housed in the British Museum. However, I can’t make any sense of the Thornton comments either. Her editor evidently did a poor job.

However, for a summary of everything you ever wanted [or didn’t want] to know about Valencian Lusterware, I compiled the following from the PDF—link below—“Valencian Lusterware of the Fifteenth Century: An Exhibition at the Cloisters, Metropolitan Museum:

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q= ... 8443,d.b2I

In the first decades of the 15th Century, lusterware patterns using purely Muslim motifs predominated—viz. geometric shapes or, as in the case of the plate pictured, below (ca. 1420-30; Cloister Collection 56.171.162, obverse), the highly popular Tree of Life and pseudo-Kufic script connoting “grace.” Curiously, the reverse of this plate has for its central motif one, which is somewhat reminiscent of the ring, plus three feathers found on the reverse of Lorenzo’s birth tray, in addition to the fleur-de-lis. However, in this case, the Muslim design is described as “a palm tree, surrounded by bands with a repeating al-afiya motif” denoting “health” and “happiness.” This coincidental find is all the more remarkable, perhaps, in view of the likewise contemporary Euro-Christian custom of depicting talismanic images on the reverse of birth trays, cassoni, or other works of art and furniture.

56.171.162 obverse.jpg
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Cloister Collection 56.171.162 (Obverse):

http://www.metmuseum.org/collections/se ... 1813?img=0

56.171.162 reverse.jpg
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Cloister Collection 56.171.162 (Reverse):

http://www.metmuseum.org/collections/se ... .162&img=1

DP164871.jpg
Lorenzo's Birth Tray (Reverse)
DP164871.jpg (93.18 KiB) Viewed 7085 times


The pattern of blue and gold ivy leaves with an acacia leaf and small dotted-flower background represented a later innovation, which became highly common by the middle of the 15th Century. This is exemplified by the plate, below (ca. 1427-41; Cloister Collection 56.171.148), which bears the arms of Blanche of Navarre, impaled with those of her husband, John II of Aragon, with the fine detailing and graduated coloring exhibited in the leaves likely pointing to the early years of this period.

56.171.148.jpg
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Cloister Collection 56.171.148 (For magnification):

http://www.metmuseum.org/collections/se ... ;noqs=true

The pattern of a six-petalled acacia flower with byrony leaves figured in dark blue glaze and arranged against a backdrop of pliant stocks, dots, and leaf designs in copper luster became the most popular and widely disseminated motif of Valencian lusterware from 1430 until well into the second half of the 15th Century. It was particularly popular in Italy, where it was copied from the mid-century, forward, by domestic manufacturers, with the Medici-Orsini marriage vase (ca. 1469-87), which you unearthed, perhaps, representing something of an early and poor knock-off. The plate, below (ca. 1430-1460; Cloister Collection 56.171.143) is charged at center, with the IHS motif, which frequently appeared with the acacia-byrony pattern.

56.171.143.jpg
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Cloister Collection 56.171.143:

http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/se ... .143&pos=1

32809420_p.jpg
Medici-Orsini Marriage Vase [for comparison]
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The ivy-leaf design was later repeated in adapted or degenerate form in the second half of the 15th Century. Here, the ivy-leaf, which had earlier been highly detailed with graduated color tones, was reduced to a small and uniform pattern and color of dark blue and copper, as exemplified by the plate, below (ca. 1450-1468; Cloister Collection 56.171.129).

56.171.129.jpg
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Cloister Collection 56.171.129:

http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/se ... .129&pos=1

For comparison - the Medici Valencian Vase, now housed in the British Museum:

piero the gouty father of lorenzo 2 feathers.jpg
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Finally, the last quarter of the 15th Century saw the last evolution of the ivy motif—viz. a miniscule dot-and-stalk pattern in combination with a variety of other motifs—while the color was limited to copper luster on cream white enamel, as exemplified by the first plate, below (ca. 1470-1490; Cloister Collection 56.171.114). Additionally, there was a return to classical, geometric designs and gadroons, as exemplified by the second plate, below (ca. 1480-90; Cloister Collection 56.171.160). Perhaps, this is the change to which Thornton was referring.

56.171.114.jpg
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Cloister Collection 56.171.114:

http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/se ... .114&pos=1

56.171.160.jpg
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Cloister Collection 56.171.160:

http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/se ... .160&pos=1

------

On another note, please find, below, a panel from Botticelli’s Story of Nastagio Degli Onesti (1483), which is believed to have been commissioned by Lorenzo as a marriage gift for Giannozzo Pucci and Lucrezia Bini. The panel shows the Medici heraldry of seven palli, with the fleur-de-lys at the central palli, flanked by the Pucci Moor’s Head (left), as well as the Pucci Moor’s Head impaled by the Bini heraldry (right).

247679703.jpg
Botticelli1483
(875.1 KiB) Not downloaded yet


Warm regards,
Kate
Kate
member
 

Re: Decker's new book

Postby mikeh on 31 Mar 2014, 11:02

Thanks, Kate, for the illustrations and summary of Valencian lusterware. I don't know if any of it is useful for dating Medici insignia or not. I certainly won't, without studying it further.

I read Vertova, 1979, and Fahy, 1989. Interestingly for us, one of the main reasons for dating the Cupid and Psyche panel to the 1444 wedding was the presence of what appeared to be Medici devices. The one that Vertova talks about is on the portal Cupid's palace, which is thus assimilated to the groom's, Piero's. Fahy says it was identified as the Medici coat of arms, five balls on a golden shield. I can't make out these details myself. There is also the little plant coming out of the middle vase in Thornton's illustration, which divides at the top into three parts.
Image
Schubring saw it as a reference to Piero's "three heron feathers" (Fahy p. 288). So the Cupid and Psyche panel must have been done for Piero's wedding, Wilhelm Bode concluded, with many after him agreeing. Fahy says in reply (p. 289):
Yet any gardener with common sense will be skeptical about the symbolism of the tripartite top of the middle plant because it is such a common form. Moreover, the display of such devices was not restricted to individual members of the family (18). Nor, indeed, to the Medici. Other Florentine families often used Medicean symbols to show their loyalty to the leading family of the city. The Medici coat of arms appears, for example, on a tree in one of the panels mentioned above which Botticelli produced for Antonio Pucci. The supposed alluision to Piero de' Medici's wedding, therefore, cannot serve as a terminus post quem.
________________
18. See Francis Ames-Lewis, "Early Medicean Devices", Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes (1979), 122-143.

The Botticelli panels are wainscotting panels, 1483, illustrating Boccaccio's story of Nastagio degli Omesti, that Pulci commissioned for the wedding of his son Giannozzo to Lucretia Bini (Fahy p. 287). It is the 3rd panel at http://www.abcgallery.com/B/botticelli/ ... lli26.html, another example of seven palle after 1465 (although the 1448/9 birth tray has 8: http://worldvisitguide.com/oeuvre/photo ... 722.html#; I don't know any post-1465 examples of that).

It seems to me that the Botticelli is not a convincing counterexample. It is one thing to have the Medici arms in a wedding feast presided over by Jupiter in a forest, and quite another to have them over the doorway to the groom's
palace. If, as is likely, the panels are for a wedding, then it is probably one with a Medici groom. But there were Medici weddings in 1469 and 1487. There remains the feathers-like plant, however. If indeed it is symbolic, does it point to Piero in particular? I'll get to that in a moment.

Fahy's positive argument for a later dating is surprisingly thin; the jagged rocks that made people think of Pessellino (not just me!) he says also appear in a Madonna and Child that is by the "Master of the Argonauts". As for the Cupid and Psyche, he just asserts that to his eye it is by the same artist who did the first panel of the Argonauts cassone, c. 1470, but better done, so c. 1475. Also, the other panel is clearly by an artist not active until the 1470s, Biagio d'Antonio, and the two panels were surely done around the same time. (I added this last sentence the next day.) I don't know how art historians can just tell these things. I certainly can't, from the black and white photos they show us, or the low-resolution color images on the Web. Fahy speculates that the artist might be Francesco Rosselli, who started out as a miniaturist but is mainly known for his engravings after Baldini of Triumphs and Sibyls, and also for his engraved maps. I don't see much similarity myself; if so, he is in the same milieu as the tarot cardmakers of that time.

Now I want to get back to Piero's device of the three feathers. In 1444, who besides Piero would even know about Piero's device? It is not in the same league with the palle. And did Piero even have such a device then? I am led to Ames-Lewis's article, which Ross cited but which I didn't read for myself, being focused then on Decker. There are some things in it that Ross didn't cite that are of interest.

The diamond ring with feathers are first present in public in 1448, when Piero put his devices, as opposed to the Medici family's, on the Cappella di Crocifisso in S. Miniate al Monte, together with SEMPER and a falcon (Ames-Lewis p. 140). So likely he would have had the device in 1444, but not as something generally known. The falcon is a generic image in medieval heraldry that Piero decided to adopt (p. 137). The diamond ring may have come from the Estense, granted by them in 1438 (Ames-Lewis p. 141), just as it had been to the Sforza in 1409 (p. 130). As for the feathers (p. 129; some of this has been quoted by Ross):
The diamond ring with feathers may suggest that the bearer is eternally just, since ostrich feathers (believed all to be the same length) symbolized Justice 30; on the other hand, the feathers used by the Medici may be those lost by the moulting falcon (a variant of Piero di Cosimo's personal device) and may imply the same symbolic and heraldic characteristics as the falcon itself. Giovio associated the colours given to the feathers of the full family device with those of the Theological Virtues, implying that the bearer is forever controlled by Faith, Hope and Charity: this may well be an element in the symbolism of Piero's livery colours. 31 In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, writers of emblem books developed further elaborations of these ideas, but it is likely that the early Medici intended their family device to carry no more than a general implication of eternal faithfulness and strength. 32
___________________________
30. The earliest reference to the Medici feathers as those of the ostrich known to me is in Cod. Vat. Lat. 5381, on the decorations for a festa in Rome in 1513: 'Tutto e fatto di leoni et anelli con diamanti ornate di penne di strutto'; see H. Janitschek, 'Das Capitolinische Theater vom Jahre 1513', Repertorium fiir Kunstwissenschaft, v, 1882, p. 264 n. 14...

So Piero's feathers are either generic or come from a falcon, not an ostrich. The rest of note 30 says more on ostrich feathers. The Sforza of Pesaro used them in a 1475 wedding. St. Gregory, in his Moralia, compared ostrich feathers (= Hypocrites) unfavorably with those of the falcon (= the Faithful). But "Classical writers like Pliny, however, make no such complimentary statements about the falcon" (p. 137). It is a medieval symbol.

More relevantly (same page):
The Gonzaga inventory of 1407 includes 'Unum banchale nigrum vetus cum pennis strucij rubeis et albis', see W.
Braghirolli, Sulle manifatture di arazzi in Mantova, Mantua 1879, p. 69: Mantua may have been the source for Medicean usage.

He will elaborate on that hypothesis later (see below). Footnote 31, quoted by Ross, talks about Giovi, who attributed the use of colored feathers to Lorenzo di Piero; "but there are numerous examples in Piero di Cosimo's usage", Ames-Lewis says. Footnote 32 cites later emblem books on the association of precious stones with beauty and goodness, and (I think) strength and constancy, for which I give the Latin and Italian:
For example F. Picinelli, Mondo Simbolico, Milan 1653 (hereafter Picinelli) p. 363: 'Perche ne dalle fiamme, ne dalle martellate, e offeso, fii chi gli soprapose: NEC FERRO, NEC IGNE; 6 pure: SEMPER IDEM; 0veramente: SEMPER CONSTANS, e dimostra generositt, e fortezza di cuore invincibile, e insuperabile da i piuh duri contrasti'...

On the other hand, speaking of the device of the ring with three feathers, which appears on a youth's sleeve in an early Florentine print of a youth and a girl holding a ball between them, he says that while it might have been a specifically Medici commission (p. 131):
... the device and motto perhaps had a more general significance of eternal love, and both prints and the diamond ring device may have had a wide general circulation and cannot be interpreted as exclusively Medicean.

That generalization would seem to apply to marriage gifts such as cassone panels.

Then there is the question of the colors. First, what were Piero's livery colors? Ames-Lewis says (p. 136):
The falcon-decorated standard listed in the 1456 inventory follows immediately after 'Una filza di frappe di taffecta alla divisa di P.'. 68 By analogy with the use of the term 'alla divisa' in the 1469 Ricordo, 'alla divisa di
Piero' probably describes his livery colours, white, purple and green,...

A few lines later he adds:
Colour begins to play an important part in Piero de' Medici's works at about this time: the glazed terracotta roof-tiles of the Cappella del Crocifisso vary between white, dull light mauve-pink and dull green, the colours of the Theological Virtues. Giovio suggested that the use of the colours of the Virtues on the feathers of the Medici device was an elaboration introduced by Lorenzo di Piero, 69 but it occurs frequently in Piero's use of the device. The Medici standard for the 1459 spettacolo was 'di seta vermiglia, candida e verde', and the floor of the Palazzo Medici chapel is made of an inlaid pattern of white marble, porphyry and serpentine.70 The groom leading the horse ridden by Piero di Cosimo in the Cappella Medici frescoes wears a doublet which beautifully illustrates Piero's livery (P1. 38c). It is divided into two halves, one with a pattern of alternating lozenges in dull carmine-rose and deep apple-green separated by white lines, the other with a white diamond ring on the dull carmine-rose ground with, knotted to it at the base, a long white scroll with a deep apple-green reverse inscribed (S)EMPER. Green, white and red were well-known in the early Quattrocento as the livery colours of the Gonzaga of Mantua: they can be found for example on the Gonzaga heraldic flower device which sometimes had petals with concentric circles of green inside, white, and red at the edges.71 This livery is worn by figures in Pisanello's frescoes at Mantua, and in the frescoes of the Palazzo Schifanoia, which suggests that the Este of Ferrara also adopted it at some stage.72
The use of livery colours and of the motto SEMPER is first found, like Piero's falcon, on the Cappella del Crocifisso in S. Miniato. ...

The footnotes here merely document his statements, except for footnote 70:
70 These coloured marbles were used again by Verrocchio for the tomb-slab of Cosimo de' Medici and for the tomb of Piero and Giovanni de' Medici, both in S. Lorenzo (Seymour, pp. 50-55). It is a happy coincidence that the symbolic colours of the Theological Virtues, adopted by Piero for his livery, correspond with the colours of these marbles: a coincidence which was often exploited by the Medici and their artists for decorative purposes.

There is no way to be sure that Piero intended the symbolism of the three theological virtues in the use of their colors. It might be just coincidence. But that they are all over the Medici Chapel and its frescoes, in their tombs, and on the roof of the Cappella del Crocifisso is at least suggestive.

It is only at this point that Ames-Lewis talks about the Lorenzo birth tray of 1 January 1448/9, with the full device in the three colors "white, red, and green" (p. 137). By now I think he has also given ample evidence that these colors were in fact in effect for Piero (here I am addressing a question that Kate raised). He gives a second example in a copy of a new translation of Plutarch, Vitae Alcibiades, and three more manuscript examples in footnote 74.

Later Ames-Lewis talks more about the livery colors (p. 140f, my highlighting):
Piero de' Medici was, it appears, the leading light in the introduction of a vocabulary of Medicean emblems which was taken up and greatly expanded by his sons. In this respect Piero was emulating a characteristic of Italian court life already current in such centres as Milan, Naples, Ferrara and Mantua, and even adopted specific devices used in those courts. Piero's livery colours may derive from contacts with the Gonzaga court at Mantua,
and it may be that the Este empowered him to adopt the diamond ring as the family device of the Medici: it first appears in the Paris Petrarch made for Piero only a few years after his sojourn in Ferrara at the time of the Council
in 1438 (P1. 37a).91 Links developed with the Este in 1438 may also be more generally significant to the development of courtly attitudes in the Medici.

At the same time, the colors weren't essential, even in the Medici Chapel (p. 137).
Another important example of this full device is on the trappings of Piero di Cosimo's horse in the Cappella Medici frescoes. Here however, as elsewhere in the Chapel decoration, the feathers are not coloured: they are part
of the gold pattern on the deep scarlet ground of the bridle. Colour symbolism was evidently not indispensable to the meaning of the device: in Piero's manuscript of Pomponius Mela, Cosmographia the feathers are painted gold;75 in the 1469 giostra Giuliano di Piero, riding in Lorenzo's cortege, wore 'una berretta di velluto nero con 3 penne d'oro filato suvi ritte .. .,' 76 and one of the Magi's retinue in the Cappella Medici wears a head-band with three gold feathers. In the same decoration three figures, traditionally identified as Piero de' Medici's three daughters, wear similar headbands with red and blue feathers; and in the decoration of Piero's copy of Cyprian two examples of the device have respectively one mauve and two green, and two mauve and one green, feathers.77

Ames-Lewis has much more to say about the ring, the falcon, and also the peacock. But I think I've cited enough to show that he is quite justified in a attributing the three colors to Piero in particular, starting no later than a few years after 1438, with the link to the theological virtues and the Magi perhaps at the beginning, probably by 1448, and more likely still by 1459. We can also add the 16th century testimony of Giove, although his claim only goes back as far as Lorenzo; that he was not intentionally making this up is indicated by another comment that Giove makes, saying that he "was unclear about the meaning of three interlocked rings":
'. . . ma a dirvi il vero, con ogni diligenza cercando, non potei mai trovare precisamente quel che volessero
significare, e ne stette sempre in dubbio papa Clemente .. .'

(p. 129 n. 31; I added the last sentence plus the quote the next day). At the same time, the presence of three feathers, or something like them, in an artwork does not necessarily mean Piero; it might have just been a generic symbol of eternal love. And we cannot always conclude that the feathers even with Piero were those colors, the ones of the Magi and the theological virtues, although Piero, in Ames-Lewis's reasonable view, did intend the association when he used them.

Whether the feather-like plume on the Charles VI Hanged Man is one of those feathers I doubt, if only because of its singleness and a plume unlike Piero's simpler feathers. The ostrich feather as justice seems good enough.

Note: I edited this post the next day so as to add two sentences, one near the beginning and the other, plus a quote from Giove, near the end; to get to them, find "next day" in the post.
mikeh
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Location: Oregon USA
Favorite Deck: Conver/Noblet & Sola-Busca pips

Re: Decker's new book

Postby Phaeded on 01 Apr 2014, 01:06

An overlooked parallel

There is a major work of art that does have a feather (perhaps more of wing) attached to the leg that no one seems to have connected to the CVI hanged man – Donatello’s bronze David that stood in the courtyard of the Medici palace. If the CVI is Florentine/Medicean then I don’t know how this feather could not be linked to the feather(s) on this statue, that was visible from the streets by each passerby via the palazzo gates. The Donatello feather - despite all of the bewildering interpretations of this sublime work of art (e.g., feather = Mercury) – is explicitly made as part of Goliath’s headdress and thus the feather is associated with “enemy”. Again, the enemy in 1478 (to when I would date the CVI) is Sixtus IV and his papal armies and allies bearing down on Florence-David.
Image
But look again at the card in question – instead of a crossed leg (such as we find in the earlier prototype of the PMB) it is awkwardly bent so that the feather connects with the hem of the shirt, instead of just the leg as on the David:
Image
That long shirt hem connects to another figure with feathers, except the shirt turns into a bird-like tail (no other way to describe it) in the back – Giotto’s Foolishness (a detail we don’t find in the PMB Fool, which otherwise clearly follows Giotto):
Image

The feather then is associated with precedents connoting one’s enemy and foolishness (which I believe Kolve has shown is specifically the God-denying fool from David’s Psalms); this Fool is an especially negative allegory. The bags of money held by the CVI Fool would seem to indicate a common bankruptcy crime or the like, but the combination with the feather points to a greater crime – a crime against the state of Florence: an enemy of the state is indicated here. As I pointed out above in this thread, both Giotto’s Envy and the CVI hold bags of money, but is this simply to accrue to it the vice of Envy to this already overloaded allegory? Envy is the paired vice opposite Charity and was the highest of the Theological virtues - the one the Church most clearly identified with. The enemy of the state of Florence is the Church here, or rather the one lead astray by Sixtus IV in his war on Florence (or so Florentine/Medicean propaganda would have it). In fact the inscription on the (now missing) base of the bronze David reveals itself as a Medicean rallying point against enemies: “The victor is whoever defends the fatherland. God crushes the wrath of an enormous foe. Behold! A boy overcame a great tyrant. Conquer, o citizens!” (tr. Sperling, “Donatello's Bronze 'David' and the Demands of Medici Politics”, Christine M. Sperling, The Burlington Magazine, Vol. 134, No. 1069, Apr., 1992, pp. 218-224; 219)

There is no denying the strong influence of Giotto’s virtues/vices on the early tarot (another example is Justice’s trefoil arch paralleled in the PMB Justice) and thus it is not at all odd to see this most famous Florentine artist, Giotto, mimicked in the cards – or rather a nod made towards his virtues and vices (even his Campanile in Florence associates him with the virtues as they are in bas relief on it). That Donatello’s bronze David, literally at the center of Medici world, would also be referenced is unremarkable but adds clarity towards uncovering the meaning of an oddly placed feather at the foot (and shirt tail) of the CVI Fool.

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Re: Decker's new book

Postby mikeh on 02 Apr 2014, 22:26

Phaeded: The Donatello wing is indeed part of Goliath's headgear. But helmets with wings--and plumes--were standard for warriors, friend or foe. Examples: the BAR Chariot card (viewtopic.php?f=12&t=334&p=4170&hilit=helmet#p4147) and numerous other examples provided by Ross at viewtopic.php?f=12&t=334&hilit=helmet&start=10#p4294. The wings do not imply "enemy".

I like your linking of the placement of the feather with Giotto's Stultitia, which may indeed suggest "fool"--"birdbrain", we say--to someone familiar with Giotto's image.
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Re: Decker's new book

Postby Kate on 04 Apr 2014, 05:59

Dear Phaeded,

Thank you for your very thoughtful response. I apologize for the delay in my own. It’s been a tough week. Moreover, I have not had the opportunity to fully consider both of your posts, and I am just dog-tired. Thus, please consider this a partial response.

Ultimately what is of the most interest to me is the research trail that seemingly went cold on Ross – it seems he could trace the association of the theological virtue’s colors only to Dante (perhaps it is his invention -all the more reason for Florentines to adopt it). And yet quite soon after Dante’s death we find the color association already taken for granted, even by a painter in a rival city to Florence – Siena; below is Ambrogio Lorenzetti’s altarpiece for Massa Marittima, c. 1335, a city that was essentially subject to Siena (and was formally so by the end of the Trecento). The theological virtues are named on each of the three steps – in ‘appropriate’ color – leading to the Virgin; the unusual attribute of the tower for Spes has been linked to writings of Augustine and this altarpiece has been connected (by Diana Norman, among others) to an Augustinian church in Massa Marittima.

Lorenzetti’s La Maestà, Massa Marittima (ca. 1335).jpg
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A number of art historians have posited that a strong symbiosis existed between Dante’s Commedia and the visual arts—viz. that Dante was strongly inspired in his literary speculations by the visual arts, in addition to, in turn, inspiring later visual artists. Along these lines, the Donation detail in Giotto’s Last Judgment, Scrovegni Chapel, Padua (ca. 1303-1305), may be of interest.

Here, Enrico degli Scrovegni and a clerical member of the military-religious order known as the Cavalieri Gaudenti kneel as co-donors on the side of the blessed as they present a symbolic model of the chapel to the Virgin. According to its constitutions, the Cavalieri Gaudenti—of which Enrico was a lay member—had two principle aims: devotion to the Virgin and the suppression of usury (Rough, R. H. 1980. The Art Bulletin, Vol. 62, No. 1, pp. 24-35). On the other hand, according to John Paoletti, the Virgin, to whom the chapel was dedicated both in her role of Annunciate and Caritas, wears the liturgical robes of a deacon, who had the responsibility in the early church of dispensing alms to the poor (Paoletti, 2005; Art in Renaissance Italy, pp. 75). As an aside, I am unable to verify that the Virgin’s robes are, in fact, those of a deacon. Significantly, however, these robes are figured in red and are worn by the Virgin in other (though not all) chapel narratives—viz. the Annunciation and Visitation. (In the Life of the Virgin cycle, the young Virgin wears white at her presentation at the Temple and at her marriage. In the Life of Christ cycle, she continues to wear these red robes, but has additionally acquired to wear over them a palla figured in lapis blue—most of which has now disappeared inasmuch as it was applied as a dry overcoat to save costs. At the Crucifixion and Lamentation, however, the Virgin has lost the red robe completely and wears only blue.)

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That said, Giotto apparently employed a different ordering than Dante in terms of the Virtues. For a comparison between the Scrovegni Chapel (moving from the east, adjacent the altar, to the west entrance/Last Judgment) vs. Dante’s Commedia (ascending through the planetary spheres):

Giotto
1) Prudence (vs. Folly)
2) Fortitude (vs. Inconstancy)
3) Temperance (vs. Anger) ***
4) Justice (vs. Injustice) ***
5) Faith (vs. Infidelity)
6) Charity (vs. Envy) ***
7) Hope (vs. Despair) ***

Dante
1) Prudence/Wisdom (Sun)
2) Fortitude (Mars; vs. Moon/Inconstancy)
3) Justice (Jupiter; vs. Mercury/Ambition deficit Justice) ***
4) Temperance (Saturn; vs. Venus/Love deficit Temperance) ***
5) Faith (eighth sphere)
6) Hope (eighth sphere) ***
7) Charity (eighth sphere) ***

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Interestingly, Giotto’s personification of Hope—as opposed his other virtues—is winged. Moreover, it mirrors Giotto’s depiction of Christ’s post-Crucifixion Resurrection/Ascension to the heavenly realm.

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On the other hand, the two Amours of the CVI Love trump have red wings, whereas, those of the Angel(s) of the Resurrection are green. Hmmm. . . .

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But in terms of any possible sources for Dante’s model, I wonder if contemporary interpretations of Aristotle’s theory of color might be of some use? That is, in a model, where white and black represent two ends of the spectrum, Innocent III is said to have defined white as representing the foundation and green as the mean (John Gage, 1999), whereas, others (e.g., Bartholomeus Anglicus) defined red as the mean between white and black, with green falling closer to black. Just a thought. This, too, might be a dead end.

On Lorenzetti’s La Maestà, Massa Marittima (ca. 1335)

Lovely piece, isn’t it? But could you kindly expand upon Hope’s Tower? Also, I’m curious—There would seem to be a conflation between the theological and cardinal virtues—or maybe not?

1) Faith and Prudence
2) Hope and Fortitude
3) Caritas and . . . ?
4) Virgin and Child with . . . ?

Warm regards,
Kate
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Re: Decker's new book

Postby Kate on 20 Apr 2014, 05:25

Greetings,

Phaeded wrote:I still place the CVI hanged man in the context of that deck being produced as one of the numerous species of Medicean propaganda in response to the papacy-involved Pazzi conspiracy. As the financial supporters of not just the anti-pope John XII . . . but ‘regular’ popes such as Eugene VI, the only way the Medici could have understood the Pazzi assassination was as a violation of their traditional “friendship” with the papacy in the most egregious manner possible; the act was "traitorous" and deserving of condemnation via the hanged man. That relationship eventually had to be repaired, but not in 1478 and immediately thereafter; they were literally at war with the current pope, Sixtus IV.


Yes, I am familiar with the Pazzi Conspiracy and its aftermath.

Phaeded wrote:One more observation to add to the above on hanged man as antitype of Charity – the vice opposite Charity in Giotto’s Scrovegni chapel is Envy; both the CVI hanged man and Giotto’s Envy hold bags of money (the latter even has red tongues of flames at her feet, suggestive of the red feather):
Image
Image


Moreover, Giotto’s Charity tramples money bags beneath her feet, whereas, in his Last Judgment, those guilty of moneylending or usury—viz. for Avarice/antitype of Charity—are among the damned, hung by the neck, and with a money bag suspended directly above their heads. (Cf. Dante’s Commedia, the third ring of Inferno’s seventh circle, which correlates in Dante’s “world of mirrors” with Purgatory’s second circle containing the envious.) Giotto’s works were heavily infused with Joachimism, of course; reference, for instance, his fresco program at Assisi (ca. 1320), inclusive of the Apotheosis of S. Francis and Marriage to Poverty. Then, again, the same held true for Dante.

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It is, perhaps, also worth noting that Giotto’s Last Judgment shows Judas hanging by the neck and with his guts spilling out beneath the moneylenders as a suicide or the vice of Desperation/antitype of Hope (pictured, below). The lack of hope was arguably the defining characteristic of Dante’s Inferno—“Justice divine has weighed: the doom is clear. All hope renounce, ye lost, who enter here.”

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On the other hand, it bears mention that the flames depicted at Envy’s feet are not peculiar to this vice; one finds this motif as well in Giotto’s Infidelity, antitype of Faith.

Scrovegni. Infidelity.jpg
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By the by, I find more than a bit of irony in assessing the Hanged Man motif in context of Dante’s Commedia, where “down is up.” Dante’s descent into hell followed Classical paradigms relating to the catabasis, in addition to the Augustinian model pertaining to humility. But beyond that, as I understand Dante’s cosmic cartography, heaven is south. In his fall from heaven, Satan impacted earth head first at the southern hemisphere, creating Mount Purgatory as he bodily bored a hole with lightning speed deep into the planet’s core, where he eventually became encapsulated in ice, thus, placing the northern hemisphere in the nether regions (and its inhabitants likewise head down, feet up). We find this view reflected in old, post-TO navigation maps, where a legendary earthly paradise is located upon a mountaintop in the southern hemisphere, whereas, the north polar region is identified with the maw of hell and—in the words of one Italian cardinal, whose name I don’t recall—Scotland as the “arsehole of the world.”

Phaeded wrote:An overlooked parallel

There is a major work of art that does have a feather (perhaps more of wing) attached to the leg that no one seems to have connected to the CVI hanged man – Donatello’s bronze David that stood in the courtyard of the Medici palace. If the CVI is Florentine/Medicean then I don’t know how this feather could not be linked to the feather(s) on this statue, that was visible from the streets by each passerby via the palazzo gates. The Donatello feather - despite all of the bewildering interpretations of this sublime work of art (e.g., feather = Mercury) – is explicitly made as part of Goliath’s headdress and thus the feather is associated with “enemy”. Again, the enemy in 1478 (to when I would date the CVI) is Sixtus IV and his papal armies and allies bearing down on Florence-David.
Image
But look again at the card in question – instead of a crossed leg (such as we find in the earlier prototype of the PMB) it is awkwardly bent so that the feather connects with the hem of the shirt, instead of just the leg as on the David:
Image
That long shirt hem connects to another figure with feathers, except the shirt turns into a bird-like tail (no other way to describe it) in the back – Giotto’s Foolishness (a detail we don’t find in the PMB Fool, which otherwise clearly follows Giotto):
Image

The feather then is associated with precedents connoting one’s enemy and foolishness (which I believe Kolve has shown is specifically the God-denying fool from David’s Psalms); this Fool is an especially negative allegory. The bags of money held by the CVI Fool would seem to indicate a common bankruptcy crime or the like, but the combination with the feather points to a greater crime – a crime against the state of Florence: an enemy of the state is indicated here. As I pointed out above in this thread, both Giotto’s Envy and the CVI hold bags of money, but is this simply to accrue to it the vice of Envy to this already overloaded allegory? Envy is the paired vice opposite Charity and was the highest of the Theological virtues - the one the Church most clearly identified with. The enemy of the state of Florence is the Church here, or rather the one lead astray by Sixtus IV in his war on Florence (or so Florentine/Medicean propaganda would have it). In fact the inscription on the (now missing) base of the bronze David reveals itself as a Medicean rallying point against enemies: “The victor is whoever defends the fatherland. God crushes the wrath of an enormous foe. Behold! A boy overcame a great tyrant. Conquer, o citizens!” (tr. Sperling, “Donatello's Bronze 'David' and the Demands of Medici Politics”, Christine M. Sperling, The Burlington Magazine, Vol. 134, No. 1069, Apr., 1992, pp. 218-224; 219)

There is no denying the strong influence of Giotto’s virtues/vices on the early tarot (another example is Justice’s trefoil arch paralleled in the PMB Justice) and thus it is not at all odd to see this most famous Florentine artist, Giotto, mimicked in the cards – or rather a nod made towards his virtues and vices (even his Campanile in Florence associates him with the virtues as they are in bas relief on it). That Donatello’s bronze David, literally at the center of Medici world, would also be referenced is unremarkable but adds clarity towards uncovering the meaning of an oddly placed feather at the foot (and shirt tail) of the CVI Fool.


Donatello’s David and Goliath is highly intriguing from an iconographic standpoint. There is an odd disconnect between the work, which in all probability was a private commission, and the above-cited, political epigraph, tempting one to speculate that the epigraph was a later addition possibly dating from after the statue’s relocation to the new Palazzo Medici, ca. 1460. Moreover, it is now widely agreed that the statue was designed to be placed upon a pedestal, such that David’s down-cast eyes would rest on the viewer and, most importantly, so that Goliath’s face and helm would be at, roughly, eye level.

As noted by a number of art historians, Goliath’s helm represents something of an anomaly inasmuch as it should have protected his head from a small, flying missile and, in fact, Goliath's face and head show no outward signs of trauma (other than being separated from his body). :-o Further, the fatal stone still rests, presumably unused, in David’s left hand. On the other hand, the visor’s relief, which was positioned so as to be in full view, depicts what has been identified as a Triumph of Love, while the positioning of the feathered wing at David’s right inner thigh adds an undeniably erotic edge.

One should take care not to make overbroad generalizations; this statue was placed in the new palazzo’s courtyard adjacent the garden, where Donatello’s Judith Beheading Holofernes (ca. 1460) was situated, each work presumably having its own, distinct import. That said, I’d fully agree that, in general, the genre relating to decapitation and/or the Triumph of Love as developed during the Renaissance, forward, into the Baroque period is not well understood, today. This applies to not only individual works of art, but those, which are part of a greater narrative program. Aside from the erotic texture, which is sometimes present in these works, another interesting development involves the use of self-portraiture—e.g., where the artist depicts himself as the decapitated head of Goliath or Holofernes in the context of a psychomachia. Mind you, my comments are not in any way intended to discount the work’s later (and uncontested) use in Medicean political propaganda (nor its use as such by republicans with the expulsion of the “Medici tyrants” following Lorenzo’s death).

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In truth, I’m more inclined to believe that the tail belonging to the CVI Hanged Man is that of a beast, not fowl—a fox, perhaps, which may find support in the Wheel of Fortune found in the BAR. I find this of some significance as this is the only instance that I have encountered, which would seem to link the Hanged Man with the downward rotation of Fortuna’s Wheel.

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That said, I’m here to learn; I’m open to other views; and I’m intrigued by a number of elements in your theory. I cannot agree, however, that but for the presence of the feather (or the tail of another animal), that the bags of money held by the CVI Hanged Man would merely connote “a common bankruptcy crime or the like.” Rather, I’d say that it presents one element, which compels consideration. Keep in mind that the figures referenced above—Giotto’s Envy and the Moneylenders—materially differ from the CVI Hanged Man in that they are associated with only one money bag—not two. Similarly, the oft-cited candidate, Judas Iscariot, is traditionally associated with either a purse at his belt or one bag of silver coins—not two bags of gold. Curiously, close inspection of Giotto’s Justice reveals that the winged swordsman at her left, who decapitates the kneeling figure before him, also has a purse at his belt. Perhaps, the role of this swordsman merits further investigation—e.g., as the flipside to Giotto’s Temperance, whose identifying attributes include a sheathed sword. (Note: a detail of Justice’ Swordsman can be viewed in Jules Lubbock, 2006, Storytelling in Christian Art from Giotto to Donatello, pp. 77, available on Google Books.)

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But, more to the point, what’s not accounted for, here, or by other theories of which I am privy is that the CVI Hanged Man clearly represents an anthropomorphic set of evenly balanced scales. Further, this motif is no mere anomaly; it reappears in other Southern decks and, thus, must be deemed essential to an understanding of the trump.

Along these lines, the Libra trump from the Minchiate Etruria might be of interest to the extent that it may have been adopted from earlier, Florentine decks. Here, you’ll note what appears to be a fox standing upon a set of evenly balanced scales, with a porcupine, conceivably for invincibility/Mars, below.

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On the other hand, if only by reason of their matching color schemes and adjacent positioning, the CVI Hanged Man and Death trumps would seem to constitute a pair. Moreover, the color of Death’s horse naturally calls to mind the third horseman of the Apocalypse, perhaps, inferring a conflation of the third and fourth seals:

When He opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come and see.” So I looked, and behold, a black horse, and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not harm the oil and the wine.

When He opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, “Come and see.” So I looked, and behold, a pale horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him. (Rev 6.5-6.8)


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On this note, I’ll close and wish you all a happy Passover or Easter Sunday.

Warmly,
Kate
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Re: Decker's new book

Postby Phaeded on 02 May 2014, 23:42

Hey Kate,
Just got back from Italy on Wednesday – so sorry for belated response (barely looked at my laptop while on vacation).

Kate wrote:
In truth, I’m more inclined to believe that the tail belonging to the CVI Hanged Man is that of a beast, not fowl—a fox, perhaps, which may find support in the Wheel of Fortune found in the Rosenwald Sheet. I find this of some significance as this is the only instance that I have encountered, which would seem to link the Hanged Man with the downward rotation of Fortuna’s Wheel.

Some problems with this interpretation: firstly, the tail in the later comparable you provided is depicted by many short strokes depicting hair, not the curvilinear lines shown in the CVI, branching off a central stem….such as one finds in a feather; secondly, Fortune is treated in a different card elsewhere, and thirdly the primary meaning of the hanged man was already established by social conventions: either a bankrupt or a traitor; in the CY the latter is born out but here the message is confused by the money bags…or perhaps, on the contrary, this is a clarifying attribute - that the traitor in question was after monetary possessions (Florence and its revenue streams).

Of course one must consider the context of the entire deck when ferreting out the meaning of any one card, and in that vein I find these other cards all suggestive of the context of the Pazzi conspiracy:

• The Fool wears a triple layered hat just like the triple crowned papal tiara, as well as a blue cloak which the Pope also wears.
• Death shows the Papal court trampled underfoot when the pre-existing option of the PMB’s more generic skeleton with bow could have been shown. It is unthinkable that a pro-papal Florence under the Medici – the “pope’s bankers” – would have gone with the Papal-Death variation (no matter how establshied in other works of art) unless it was during a period of extreme tension between the Medici and the Pope.
• The Chariot, for the first time I believe, shows an armored male instead of a chaste woman. Why? Below is an almost exact image of the figure on the CVI chariot (down to even the red beretta on the head). I’ll have to go through my notes and find the source that gave the estimated year of production, but I’m fairly positive that Dati, La sfera, Florence, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, ms. Med. Pal. 89, c.3.is from ca. 1460-1480 and definitely depicts Mars from an allegorical planetary sequence (one scholar says the artist was Apollonio di Giovanni). Therefore the chariot likely shows a leader dressed for a bellicose endeavour: Florence rallying around Lorenzo Medici against Sixtus IV (keep in mind effigies of Lorenzo were made at this time for the people to rally around).
Mars, from Fl ms.jpg
Mars from a Florentine MS, ca. 1480
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Image
Granted the halbard is odd, but you will find that in yet another Medici-sponsored work of art that also dates to right after the Pazzi conspiracy - Botticelli's Pallas and the Centaur (ca. 1482): Image
Now note that the only surviving court card of the CVI - the page of swords - wears a very similarly decorated white tunic (scrolled vines and flowers) to that shown in Botticelli's paintings which would help date the CVI deck to when Botticelli was active:
Image
The hanged man is a traitor to the House of Medici - a House that had supported the pope since the beginning of the century and was now literally back-stabbed, with the goal of placing a relative of Sixtus IV at the head of the Florentine government.

I grant you the possibility that the bags in either hand of the Hanged Man could allude to the scales of justice, but given the inverted figure, and thus an inverted meaning, that too would certainly point to the injustice of the target of this deck: the greedy, nepotistic pope grabbing for Florence.

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Re: Decker's new book

Postby Kate on 15 May 2014, 06:35

Greetings,

Phaeded: I hope you enjoyed your stay in Italy. A few weeks is always too short though, isn’t it? I also apologize for the delay in my response. My schedule does not always allow me to keep up with my correspondence as much as I would like.

Kate wrote:
In truth, I’m more inclined to believe that the tail belonging to the CVI Hanged Man is that of a beast, not fowl—a fox, perhaps, which may find support in the Wheel of Fortune found in the Rosenwald Sheet. I find this of some significance as this is the only instance that I have encountered, which would seem to link the Hanged Man with the downward rotation of Fortuna’s Wheel.


I see that I incorrectly identified the Wheel belonging to the Beaux-Arts-Rothschild (BAR) as belonging to the Rosenwald Sheet. My apologies. That error has been corrected in my post, above.

Some problems with this interpretation: firstly, the tail in the later comparable you provided is depicted by many short strokes depicting hair, not the curvilinear lines shown in the CVI, branching off a central stem….such as one finds in a feather;


I believe it’s safe to assume that the CVI and Minchiate Etruria decks had different artists, who employed different artistic techniques, barring an attribution to the Comte de Saint-Germain. 8-x But to reframe my previous statement, I simply do not feel confident that the species of tail can be determined by a visual inspection of the CVI Hanged Man trump alone. I do not preclude the possibility that the tail is that of an ostrich feather.

secondly, Fortune is treated in a different card elsewhere,


Could you expand on this? If referring to the presence of Clotho in the CVI Sun trump, her presence as such in the BAR deck did not preclude use of the cited Wheel. Further, there’s arguably some replication of other tropes in the deck.

9.BAR.Wheel.jpg
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and thirdly the primary meaning of the hanged man was already established by social conventions: either a bankrupt or a traitor; in the CY the latter is born out but here the message is confused by the money bags…or perhaps, on the contrary, this is a clarifying attribute - that the traitor in question was after monetary possessions (Florence and its revenue streams).


As you, yourself, have pointed out, the CVI Hanged Man by reason of having a tail—whether beast or fowl—constitutes a variance from other, extent Tarot decks. As such, you have posited that the CVI
Hanged Man represents a reworking of an existing trope for Medicean propaganda against a corrupt Sixtus IV and his allies as the antitype of Charity/Fidelity surrounding the period of the Pazzi Conspiracy.

My interest has been sparked based on the established convention exhibited in the Tarot and elsewhere that a man positioned in a head-down, feet-up position and possessing a tail is linked with the downward rotation of Fortuna’s Wheel. It doesn’t require a great stretch of the imagination to see the link. Rather, the crux of the problem, as I see it, is how one would interpret this downward rotation in context of the deck, overall, which is what I’m attempting to flesh out. That said, I’m highly curious why you feel the Hanged Man’s link with shame paintings, per se, precludes his link with the Wheel or visa-versa.

Death shows the Papal court trampled underfoot when the pre-existing option of the PMB’s more generic skeleton with bow could have been shown. It is unthinkable that a pro-papal Florence under the Medici – the “pope’s bankers” – would have gone with the Papal-Death variation (no matter how establshied in other works of art) unless it was during a period of extreme tension between the Medici and the Pope.


Sure, if it can be established that use of the Papal-Death variation would have been perceived as antipapal by the dominant society. But can it? As you, yourself stated, this topos was widely used in Renaissance Catholic Society. Further, I don’t understand why one should draw a distinction between its use in Tarot, as opposed to some other medium.

But in terms of its use in Medicean Florence, please find an illustration initially unearthed by Michael J. Hurst and subsequently posted to this site by Steve M, entitled “Canzona della morte, canzona del Bronchone, canzona del Diamante e della Chazuola,” Florence, ca. 1513 (Fenlon, I. 2004. Early Music History: Volume 23: Studies in Medieval and Early Modern Music). The illustration appeared on the title page of a popular pamphlet containing four canti Carnascialeschi linked with a feste, which occurred within a year of the first Medici Restoration (1512-27)—presumably, for Carnival, February, 1513. It depicts Death with scythe, walking across a field strewn with heads, including that of a pope and a cardinal.

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I’m not suggesting that this one example definitively answers the issue at hand. Further, it falls outside the period to which you would date the CVI. On the other hand, I believe it unlikely that any relevant change in social attitudes transpired in the intervening period. This feste occurred during a very critical juncture in Medici fortunes, both in Florence and Rome. Moreover, it represented an integral component in Medicean propaganda. The greatest attention to detail was given the planning and execution of this feste, in addition to those others celebrated during the first Medici Restoration. (Cummings, A. M. 2004. The Maecenas and the Madrigalist: Patrons, Patronage, and the Origins of the Italian Madrigal.)

As an aside, the subject feste/chapbook is also of some possible interest for follow-up in terms of its reference to the three fates, Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos. Specifically, in the “Canzona del Diamante, quel primo eterno amor” (aka “trionfi delle tre parche”), the Fates appear in context of the principle stages of life—youth/maturity/old age, birth/life/death, spring/summer/fall, past/present/future—in addition to the stages of humanity’s existence in general or that of its sociopolitical institutions. Clotho, who “spinning gives life perfection,” is associated with the “happier state” to which “spotless youth aspires” and “darkened old age, having lost it, weeps.” Extending the analogy to Florence, the Restoration is characterized as a return to the Laurentian Golden Age, when “festivity and faith” abounded, ruled by “virtue, grace, and peace” (Cummings, 2004).

The Chariot, for the first time I believe, shows an armored male instead of a chaste woman. Why? Below is an almost exact image of the figure on the CVI chariot (down to even the red beretta on the head). I’ll have to go through my notes and find the source that gave the estimated year of production, but I’m fairly positive that Dati, La sfera, Florence, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, ms. Med. Pal. 89, c.3.is from ca. 1460-1480 and definitely depicts Mars from an allegorical planetary sequence (one scholar says the artist was Apollonio di Giovanni). Therefore the chariot likely shows a leader dressed for a bellicose endeavour: Florence rallying around Lorenzo Medici against Sixtus IV (keep in mind effigies of Lorenzo were made at this time for the people to rally around).
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Yes, there is a certain resemblance between the Dati work and CVI Chariot trump. One difference I would draw your attention to, however, is that the Dati Mars brandishes a naked sword. Another difference, which may be relevant—or maybe not—is that the Dati Mars is a mature, bearded man, whereas, the protagonist in the CVI Chariot trump is an unbearded youth.

Granted the halbard is odd, but you will find that in yet another Medici-sponsored work of art that also dates to right after the Pazzi conspiracy - Botticelli's Pallas and the Centaur (ca. 1482): Image


Yes, the halberd or polearm was the commoner’s weapon of foot, I believe (although it would later be the weapon of choice of Alessandro Farnese, Duke of Parma [1545-92], most noted for his military exploits as Spanish Governor during the 16th Century Dutch Revolt). The weapon’s prime, anatomical target (i.e., human vs. a mount in a “push” maneuver) was the head or groin (= decapitation or castration). As such, its use in the Botticelli work may allude to Athene’s association with Chastity, creating a dynamic tension in relation to the concomitant allusion to the Triumph of Love (the Delilah-type grasping of “Samson-Centaur’s” hair). By the by, notice the blue-grey coloration of the halberd’s square-cut gem and Medici diamante in the Botticelli work.

But returning to the CVI Chariot trump, notice its use at right of a sheathed sword—a symbol of Temperance—in red scabbard. Look at the car’s drapes. Observe the use of the “palli” motif against a field of white, green, and blue, but also in the more dominant red drapery—a possible allusion to the four points of a compass (or wheel) and its various cognates, but with an emphasis on the “red” as a sort of cartographic marker—, plus the gold ground, beneath. Compare the use of this “palli” motif to that found in the red dress of Temperance. Thus, if indeed the intent was to link the halberd with Chastity, another interpretation to consider for this trump might be that of Chastity-Temperance.

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Phaeded, I’m in full agreement with you that a relationship was intended between the CVI Pope and Death trumps. However, I tentatively see this relationship in context of a tetrad—viz. Pope-Fortitude-Death-Resurrection (Angel). Similar to the paradigm discussed above, for instance, one finds the use of a matching floral motif (in form, if not color) in Fortitude’s dress and the Pope’s robe. Consider, also, Fortitude’s broken column—like the image of a felled tree or tree stump, a symbol of death—, conceivably defining this virtue in terms of fortitude in the face of death or the fortitude to destroy one’s adversary even onto mutual death, as exemplified by Samson’s bringing down the middle pillars of the Philistine temple. But one element in particular, which I would draw your attention to (i.e., as found in the Death trump) is the mark of the stigmata, which appears on the dorsum of the pope’s right hand in reference to the Via Crucis. I simply do not see how this fits with your antipapal theory.

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Skipping over speculations relating to the virtue, Justice, another CVI trump, which has continually irked me is the Emperor. Notice, for instance, how the orb, which he holds with his left hand bears a “Y” Upsilon, instead of the standard “T” of the T-O Globe; and the “floating” genius figures at the Emperor’s left, recalling the child, in red, that straddles the Fool’s left leg. However, the most remarkable feature of the Emperor is his resemblance in facial features to the Old Man (Time), but for the length of the beard and their reversed profiles, like flipsides of a coin. This “reversal” is carried through in the gold detailing located at the blue robe’s hem—left-facing in the Emperor trump and right-facing in the Old Man (Time) trump.

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Warm regards,
Kate
Kate
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