In this post I want to show a connection between a common 15th century "World" card style and the 17th century Parisian versions by Noblet and Vieville. Here are the d'Este and Charles VI World cards:
The d'Este is from Ferrara, probably 1470's; the Charles VI is currently thought to be of Florence, perhaps early 1460's. The name "World" first appears in the "Steele Sermon", second half of 15th century, Ferrara area, as a name for its last numbered trump.
For clues on how the card might have been seen at the time, here is a fresco by Lorenzo Costa, an artist from Ferrara, done for the Bentivoglio Chapel, Bologna, around 1490. It is usually called a "Triumph of Fame," or sometimes "The Triumph of Fame (and Fortune). (My source for the color image is Evelyn Welch, Art in Renaissance Italy
This fresco has been discussed extensively in relation to the tarot in a thread on Aeclectic initiated by M J Hurst. However people there did not discuss the main aspect of the fresco that relates to the later French tarot. Hurst began the thread by quoting an analysis of the chapel artworks by David J. Drogin, in "Bologna's Bentivoglio Family and its Artists", an essay in the book Artists at Court
, 2004) After first discussing a group portrait of the Bentivoglio and a "Triumph of Death" next to the "triumph of Fame," Drogin says:
The Triumph of Fame (and Fortune) appears to have fewer correspondences between text and image. Warriors and scholars are enumerated in Petrarch's text, however the image yields few clues that permit definitive identification. The painting's most enigmatic feature is the sky-borne tabellone. Here, small figures interact in abbreviated, enigmatic narratives. Deciphering these, Wendy Wegener suggested that the painting conflates a Triumph of Fame -- the natural partner to the Triumph of Death in a Petrarchian framework -- and a Triumph of Fortune, in which the roundel represents a Wheel of Fortune. In it, historical and literary events around its circumference mark degrees of Fortune's favor according to the position on the wheel. The Bentivoglio's interest in Fortune is demonstrated by a tournament in 1490, the same year that Costa painted these scenes. There is a general parallel between these scenes and ones enacted in Bolognese piazze, supported by similarities between festivals and the ceremonial splendor in the paintings. There is also a specific parallel to the 1490 celebrations, as in the painting, Giovanni II, Annibale II, and others appear in Fame/Fortune's entourage, aligning Bentivoglio leaders with Fortune's favors, just as occurred in the spectacle itself.
In the Bentivoglio Chapel, as in Petrarch's poem, fame and its immortality come not only to warriors (as Annibale I and Giovanni II are represented), but also to famous thinkers. Petrarch wrote that, contemplating the warriors in Fame's entourage, he could not take his eyes from them, until a voice encouraged him to look to the side, where he saw renowned philosophers. Standing before the painting, one sees on the left Antongaleazzo's professor tomb. This is, perhaps, a spatial-artistic parallel that demonstrates the range of Bentivoglio success under Fame and Fortune's (and Knowledge's) aegis. This conflation also appears with Giovanni II's figure in the Triumph of Fame (and Fortune), as he is addressed by two figures, one in robe and turban, the other armored with a sword. Nieuwenhuizen suggested that they represent Giovanni's equal interest in the active and contemplative life, or litterae and arma, qualities combined in the ideal prince.
Hurst also quotes an endnote by Drogin listing the legendary or historic personages portrayed in the upper circle. Since that aspect was discussed thoroughly on the Aeclectic thread, I omit it here.
Here is the detail of the Costa painting to which Drogin refers at the beginning of the second paragraph quoted,(in Welch, but not posted by Hurst).
Likewise, here are the two tombs to which Drogin refers later in the same paragraph (in Drogin, but not posted by Hurst). To the left of the Costa fresco but outside the chapel is the "professor's tomb," for Antongaleazzo Bentivoglio, who had received his Doctorate in Civil Law at the University of Bologna in 1412 and lectured there in Civil Law in 1418-1420. It is typical of a type that had been popular since around 1300. True to type, there is a lecturer holding a book and his students to each side. He was assassinated almost immediately upon becoming "first citizen" of Bologna in 1435.
Inside the chapel, on the right side, is another tomb, this one of Annibale Bentivoglio. This one is of a condottiere on his horse, a soldier of fortune embarking on his adventure. Annibale had become a condottiere starting quite young, perhaps as early as age 16, in company with his father Antongaleazzo, who had become a condottiere himself after his and his family's exile from Bologna. He was assassinated in 1444 soon after regaining his position as "first citizen" of Bologna after an arduous struggle.
Thus we have the representatives of the active and the contemplative life, scholars and soldiers, as represented both in Petrarch's poem and in Costa's painting. The woman with the horn in the center of the painting is Fama, identifiable by the horn she is carrying.
But I do not think that is all she is. The tournament of 1490 to which Drogin refers was a contest between Fortuna and Sapienta, Fortune and Knowledge (or Wisdom). Since Drogin does not mention the Sapienta aspect of the tournament, here is Cecilia Ady's account of the tournament in her book The Bentivoglio of Bologna
, p. 171:
On Saint Petronio's Day, 1490, the tournament proper formed the climax of a pageant. The idea originated in a discussion which took place between Annibale Bentivoglio and Niccolo Rangoni, as to whether wisdom or fortune wielded greater influence over the affairs of men. It was in fact a tenzone, in which a contest of words culminated in an appeal to arms. Proceedings opened with the appearance on the Piazza of a triumphal car in which the goddess Sapienza sat enthroned among representatives of ancient wisdom. Behind the car rode Sapienza's champions, headed by Niccolo Rangoni in a sky-blue coat richly embroidered with pearls. The company processed round the Piazza to the sound of pipes and drums, and then made way for the car of the goddess of Fortuna, attended by Annibale Bentivoglio and his band of warriors, arrayed in green. After the processions came verse-speaking in which the two goddesses in turn pleaded their cause with a venerable man in the robes of a doctor of the University. He, having declared his inability to decide between them, made appeal to the judges of the tournament, and at their signal the fighting began. Fortune emerged victorious from the battle, and the palio awarded to the victor was placed in her car. Then amid shouts of 'Sega", 'Annibale', 'Fortuna' the procession passed like a Roman triumph through the streets on its way to the Bentivoglio palace. [Ady's References: Poggio, Cronaca, ff. 48-33. Ghirardacci, Della Historia di Bologna, 1669, Pt. III, pp. 257-62.Other descriptions of the tournament of 1490 are to be found in an anonymous poem (Biblioteca Universitaria, Bologna, Ms. 774) and in a letter from Alfonso d'Este to Isabella Gonzaga (Mantua 1882. Per nozze Cavriani-Hercolani).]
In my view the pageant portrays Fama in two aspects, Fortuna and Sapienta. Fortuna wins not on her merits but just because a future ruler, Annibale II, ought to have her on his side. The contest is rigged. Perhaps not coincidentally, the wife of Annibale II, Lucrezia d'Este, is, like the painter Costa, from Ferrara.
There were two kinds of Fama and Sapienta, worldly and eternal. Worldly Fama, fame in the eyes of the world, is transient. In Petrarch's "Trionfi," Fame triumps over Death, but not Eternity. However there was also a saying, quoted by Macchievelli and perhaps said originally by one of the assassins of Galeazzo Sforza just before execution, "Death is brief, but Fame is eternal." I don't think he means to be contradicting Petrarch. He was thinking of Fama in the sense of the English "glory": there is eternal glory as well as worldly glory. On the way to death, the saying reminds us of glory in the eyes of eternity.
Similarly, there was wisdom of the world and the wisdom of God, in the famous contrast by St. Paul in Romans 8:6. Whether there were two kinds of Fortuna I don't know. Usually it was discussed in a worldly context.
Fortuna was conventionally represented as a woman turning a wheel. Fama is not turning the wheel in Costa's frescoe, but she is below one containing people raised or lowered by Fortune. Sapienta, Wisdom, was frequently represented as the goddess Minerva or Athena, goddess of Wisdom. She held a scepter, or lance, and a globe. Here is an example, from Mantua, early 16th century, done for Isabella d'Este Gonzaga, originally of Ferrara.
In this painting, Minerva's scepter/lance is broken, from expelling the Vices. She stands above a lady personifying the four virtues. This type of portrayal of Minerva/Wisdom was taken up by the city of Florence as its personification, Florentia, as on the coin below. (The essay from which I took this image specifically identifies her as Minerva. I can't find it at the moment. I will locate the reference and put it here.)
It seems to me that the Charles VI lady is just such a Minerva. She is also Fama.
In a 16th century Bolognese version of the card (above), a male figure stands above a circle divided into quadrants, suggesting the four elements. There are also the four winds, each of which was identified with a particular element. He is above them, transcending them in the way that the quintessence, the godly element, was said to transcend the four elements of this world. That can either mean to dominate the world, as Fortune, or to rise above it, as Sapienta. He wears a winged helmet, suggesting either the helmet of a conqueror or a cap enabling flight.
Sapienta, in the higher sense, is different from Prudence in that it comes directly from God as his Truth. As such it is the last rung on the celestial ladder to union with God, as shown below (Prudence is one of the lower rungs). Hence the World card is appropriately at the end of the sequence.
In Greek, Sapienta is Sophia. "Sophia" is a term in the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible for Hochmah, also meaning Wisdom. Sophia, the Wisdom of God, is, in the Hebrew Wisdom literature, the bride of God, hence identifiable with the Shulamite of the Song of Songs.
In Christianity, however, the Wisdom of God was interpreted as Jesus. Here is Sapienta as Jesus. I include an enlargement of the part showing the label "Sapienta."
A similar pose was taken in paintings called "The Madonna of Mercy." This image, Mary above humans yet covering them, it seems to me, is Mary as Queen of Heaven, another version of the Bride of God. One prays to Mary as well as Jesus for mercy at the Last Judgment (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virgin_of_Mercy
In a similar configuration, in the Cary-Yale "World" card, sometimes called "Fama," the lady with the horn stands above the world, as though admiring and honoring the scene below. In the other hand she holds a crown, not far in symbolism or imagery from a globe.
From the depiction of Sapienta as Jesus and Sophia it is a short step to later, more familiar images.
Vieville has a male figure in a mandorla (almond), reflecting a conventional representation of Jesus, often with the four evangelists or their characteristic animals in each corner.
In Noblet, the figure is female but still with masculine features. Likewise, in the 16th century version of the card found in Milan's Sforza Castle (third image above, on the left), the World card figure is more clearly feminine, a characterization that will be repeated by Conver, 1760, and many others. The Virgin Mary , like Jesus, was put in a mandorla; Andrea Vitali shows us an image in his essay on the World card (http://trionfi.com/i/21/v.php
, figure 12).
Thus we have in the World card--among other associations--the masculine and feminine versions of Sapienta. The four winds from the Bologna card are here the four evangelists, each of which was associated with one of the four elements.