The Wheel of Fortune

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The Wheel of Fortune

Postby robert on 12 Nov 2009, 22:04

A thread to discuss the iconography of The Wheel of Fortune
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Re: The Wheel of Fortune

Postby robert on 20 Nov 2009, 01:33

I stumbled across this wonderful image of two versions of the Wheel of Fortune from a missal at Amiens from 1323.






Info: The Hague, KB, 78 D 40
Contents: Festal Missal
Place of origin, date: Amiens, Garnerus de Morolio (scribe), Petrus de Raimbaucourt (illuminator); 1323
Material: Vellum, ff. 177, 347x248 (225x172) mm, 14 lines, littera textualis, Binding: 19th-century green and red leather; gilt
Decoration: 2 full-page miniatures (250x200 mm); 1 column miniature (70x80 mm); 20 historiated initials (120/35x90/30 mm); 8 illustrations in the margin; decorated initials with border decoration throughout
Provenance: made for Johannes de Marchello, abbot of the Premonstratensian abbey of St. Jean-sur-la-Celle, Amiens. J.A. d'Ambreville de Ribaucourt (1792). Joseph D‚sir‚ Lupus (d. 1822) of Brussels; purchased with his collection in 1819 by King William I of The Netherlands; keptfrom 1819-1822 at the Musee Lupus in the Palace of Charles de Lorraine at Brussels and transferred in 1823 to the KB
http://www.kb.nl/manuscripts/search/man ... +40/page/2

This site suggests that the Fox may be Reynard:
http://gotmedieval.blogspot.com/2008/05 ... ynard.html

Reynard: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reynard_cycle

Very cool! :-bd
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Re: The Wheel of Fortune

Postby Pen on 20 Nov 2009, 08:35

Fascinating, wonderfully expressive drawing. Humans in one image, animals in the other, as if the illustrator is pointing out a direct parallel, making a political statement. If so, is he comparing Charles IV to Reynard the fox, and who does the ram below the wheel, the donkey and the other fox(?) in a monk's habit represent? (not to mention the human figures in the other image). I wonder if the small animals (dogs? foxes?) on either side of the Kings are part of the thrones, or whether they hint that the king(s) is supported by a lower strata of life? Perhaps I'm reading too much into this...

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Re: The Wheel of Fortune

Postby marco on 20 Nov 2009, 09:47

Thank you Robert,
great manuscript!

I am being distracted by the texts :) I see that on the left there is a fragment from the beginning of the Requiem ("Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis.", "Grant them eternal rest, Lord, and let perpetual light shine on them"). The second one is more difficult. I think it might be a funeral liturgy for a dead clergyman:
Suscipe quaesumus Domine pro animabus famulorum tuorum (Accept our prayers (?), Lord, for the souls of your servants).


In the left "wheel", I am quite puzzled by the left and right figures. The one on the right seems to hold an Eucharistic cup. The one on the left holds a sickle. What do they mean?

I would say that the naked figure at the bottom is Jesus Christ during his Passion, the King of Heaven is appropriately presented as the opposite of a mundane King. Could the corresponding animal in the right wheel be a lamb?

This suggests to me an historically irrelevant association with the suits:
* royal sceptre = Batons
* Eucharist = Cups
* Passion of Christ = the thirty Coins of Judas
* sickle = Swords

Pen wrote:I wonder if the small animals (dogs? foxes?) on either side of the Kings are part of the thrones, or whether they hint that the king(s) is supported by a lower strata of life?


I think they are part of the thrones, but this does not necessarily exclude that they play a role in the allegory.

Marco

PS: interesting comment in the blog entry indicated by Robert: on the human wheel, note that the reigning king up top is nervously casting his eyes across the page over at the fox-king. He can see that across the page, he's being mocked by a fox, and it doesn't make him happy. I think he is right...
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Re: The Wheel of Fortune

Postby robert on 21 Nov 2009, 02:46

I was wondering if the figure holding the sickle is supposed to be a Jew, the guess based on his hat. A quick on this site seems to support the possibility.
http://www.geschichteinchronologie.ch/M ... -ENGL.html

Especially this hat:
Image

What do you guys think?
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Re: The Wheel of Fortune

Postby robert on 21 Nov 2009, 02:48

Pen wrote:Fascinating, wonderfully expressive drawing. Humans in one image, animals in the other, as if the illustrator is pointing out a direct parallel, making a political statement. If so, is he comparing Charles IV to Reynard the fox, and who does the ram below the wheel, the donkey and the other fox(?) in a monk's habit represent? (not to mention the human figures in the other image). I wonder if the small animals (dogs? foxes?) on either side of the Kings are part of the thrones, or whether they hint that the king(s) is supported by a lower strata of life? Perhaps I'm reading too much into this...

Pen

I think you're quite right to read a contrast between the two images, and yes, a 14th century commentary in a missal!
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Re: The Wheel of Fortune

Postby Huck on 21 Nov 2009, 08:26

Image

Another form of "Schicksalsrad" (="Wheel of Fortune") in Conrad Bollstatters Losbuch, finished ca. 1472 (started ca. 1450)
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Re: The Wheel of Fortune

Postby marco on 25 Nov 2009, 10:01

marco wrote:In the left "wheel", I am quite puzzled by the left and right figures. The one on the right seems to hold an Eucharistic cup. The one on the left holds a sickle. What do they mean?


Michael J. Hurst has commented the blog, providing a convincing explanation:

The Three Estates are displayed on the wheel. The figure at the top is a noble; the rising figure is a peasant; the falling figure is a cleric. The figure at the bottom is without the dignity of such estate.
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Re: The Wheel of Fortune

Postby robert on 06 Dec 2009, 13:57

I found this image today of the Tree of Jesse, and was struck by how much it reminded me of the Wheel of Fortune.



The ivory is from the Louvre. "English: The Tree of Jesse, representing the ancestry of Jesus Christ. Ivory panel from Bamberg (?), Bavaria, ca. 1200."
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Re: The Wheel of Fortune

Postby robert on 30 Jan 2010, 05:00

Gorgeous.

Image


O Fortuna
O Fortune,
just as the moon
Stands constantly changing,
always increasing
or decreasing;
Detestable life
now difficult
and then easy
Deceptive sharp mind;
poverty
power
it melts them like ice.

Fate—monstrous
and empty,
you whirling wheel,
stand malevolent,
well-being is vain
and always fades to nothing,
shadowed
and veiled
you plague me too;
now through the game,
my bare back
I bring to your villainy.

Fate, in health
and in virtue,
is now against me
driven on
and weighted down,
always enslaved.
So at this hour
without delay
pluck the vibrating string;
since through Fate
strikes down the strong,
everyone weep with me!
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