Duerer and the Master of the Sola Busca Tarocchi

#1
While reading the catalogue of the Sola Busca exhibition in Milan, I noticed a quote from a passage by Zucker that I had overlooked before. The subject is an engraving by the Master of the Sola Busca Tarocchi that was copied by Duerer in 1496. In his 1997 paper about the Master, Zucker writes:
“So far as I am aware, the image has no precedents either in classical or early Renaissance art. The appellation Pupila Augusta -august or exalted ward- is associated with Venus or Aphrodite,and presumably it is she who, accompanied by three cupids, reclines beside the sea from which she sprang, gazing pensively or moodily at a basin of water while idly pointing to (or tracing the outline of) the basin's rim. Still more enigmatic and complex than the iconography of the engraving is that of a famous drawing at Windsor Castle which Albrecht Durer,then twenty-five years old, adapted from it in 1496 Durer retained the principal figure and the cask with two cupids, inscribing the words PVPILA AVGVSTA on the cask in reverse. But he also greatly enriched the composition by adding a detailed landscape of his own invention,as well as several other figures including a group of three women with a sail, adapted from a niello-manner print by Peregrino da Cesena. Like the Master of the Sola-Busca Tarocchi, Peregrino was active in the province of Emilia, though in Bologna rather than Ferrara;thus, one is reminded that what the young Durer knew of Renaissance art, essentially he learned from such northeaster Italian engravings as Peregrino's Three Women with a Sail and the Sola-Busca Master's Pupila Augusta”.
Both the original engraving and Duerer's version are quite mysterious. Any ideas about the meaning of these strange allegories?

In the catalogue, the art historian Gnaccolini suggests that the engraving was likely derived from a famous epigram titled “Nympha super ripam Danubii”, a nimph on the shores of the Danube, apparently written by Giovanni Antonio Campano, between 1464 and 1470, which inspired many graphical and sculpture works during all the Renaissance.

I guess the epigram is the one mentioned in this paper about this other drawing by Duerer.

Huius nympha loci, sacri custodia fontis,
Dormio, dum blandae sentio murmur aquae.
Parce meum, quisquis tangis cava marmora, somnum
Rumpere. Sive bibas sive lavere tace.


I am the nymph of this place, custodian of the sacred spring.
I sleep, while I hear the murmuring of the the pleasant water.
You who touch the cave marble, do not disturb
my sleep: whether you drink or bath, be silent.

This epigram and the related Renaissance iconography certainly are interesting, but I am not sure they explain much about Pupila Augusta.

Gnaccolini mentions Panofsky's interpretation of Duerer's drawing as representing a prophetess (the woman copied from the Master's engraving) announcing the birth of Venus (the woman standing on a giant fish in the background).
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Pupila Augusta et cetera

#2
Hi, Marco,

As we've been discussing offlist, it's a very interesting drawing.

For anyone who might be interested, I've uploaded the best versions I could find or scan of Dürer's Pupila Augusta and three related images.

Dürer's Pupila Augusta
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File: ... a-1498.jpg

Pupila Augusta by the Master of the Sola-Busca Tarocchi
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File: ... -1490s.jpg

Birth of Venus by Peregrino da Cesena
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File: ... -venus.jpg

Dürer's St. Anthony Reading
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File: ... y-1519.jpg

Thanks for the challenging iconographic question.

Best regards,
Michael
We are either dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants, or we are just dwarfs.

Re: Duerer and the Master of the Sola Busca Tarocchi

#3
marco wrote: In the catalogue, the art historian Gnaccolini suggests that the engraving was likely derived from a famous epigram titled “Nympha super ripam Danubii”, a nimph on the shores of the Danube, apparently written by Giovanni Antonio Campano, between 1464 and 1470, which inspired many graphical and sculpture works during all the Renaissance.

I guess the epigram is the one mentioned in this paper about this other drawing by Duerer.

Huius nympha loci, sacri custodia fontis,
Dormio, dum blandae sentio murmur aquae.
Parce meum, quisquis tangis cava marmora, somnum
Rumpere. Sive bibas sive lavere tace.


I am the nymph of this place, custodian of the sacred spring.
I sleep, while I hear the murmuring of the the pleasant water.
You who touch the cave marble, do not disturb
my sleep: whether you drink or bath, be silent.
I wonder, if the poem addresses a specific quality of the Danube, which partly flows in the underground, at some times disappearing completely and restarting at the surface a far distance away ....

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danube
Since the Swabian Alb is largely shaped of porous limestone, and since the Rhine's level is much lower than the Danube's, today subsurface rivers carry much water from the Danube to the Rhine. On many days in the summer, when the Danube carries little water, it completely oozes away noisily into these underground channels at two locations in the Swabian Alp, which are referred to as the Donauversickerung (Danube Sink). Most of this water resurfaces only 12 km south at the Aachtopf, Germany's wellspring with the highest flow, an average of 8500 litres per second, north of Lake Constance—thus feeding the Rhine. The European Water Divide applies only for those waters that pass beyond this point, and only during the days of the year when the Danube carries enough water to survive the sink holes in the Donauversickerung.
So Pupila Augusta might express some astonishment about these natural sink holes.



I'm not aware, that Campano was ever in Germany, but he might have heard about it. I also never saw it, but we learned about it in school.

Image


Aachtopf, biggest spring in Germany:

https://maps.google.com/maps?q=aachtopf ... htopf&z=18

The Aachtopf has a distance of 35 km to Constance, which gets its attraction by the Lake Bodensee and the river Rhine, which flows through the lake. From Poggio's biographic descriptions we know, that visitors of the council 1415-18 were attracted by German baths, so the Aachtopf might have gotten some fame then..

*********************
Added later:

As far I get it, the water condition seem to change in this region occasionally. For the moment I think, that it is not clear, how the water did run in 15th century. It's reported, that the occasionally dry upper Danube became a recorded phenomenon during late 19th century. So the mass of water running to the Bodensee might have increased. But naturally there is also the possibility, that underground water ways are closed by falling stones and so change direction.
Huck
http://trionfi.com

Re: Duerer and the Master of the Sola Busca Tarocchi

#4
Hello Michael,
thank you again for the excellent images and for sharing my interest in these mysterious works of art!
Huck wrote: I wonder, if the poem addresses a specific quality of the Danube, which partly flows in the underground, at some times disappearing completely and restarting at the surface a far distance away ....
...
So Pupila Augusta might express some astonishment about these natural sink holes.
Thank you, Huck. I think that the "cave marble" simply is the basin of the fountain, as in the attached Durer's drawing. The fact that Pupila is dressed and wears an helmet seems to me incompatible with the idea of a nymph: she is clearly near the shore of a body of water, but I am not sure that this is enough to relate her to the epigram. Moreover, I cannot think how the title "Pupila Augusta" could relate to the nymph. So, I am absolutely puzzled by the fact that Gnaccolini has connected the engraving to this poem (which has a well defined iconographic tradition of its own, see also the attached engraving).
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Re: Duerer and the Master of the Sola Busca Tarocchi

#5
marco wrote:
Thank you, Huck. I think that the "cave marble" simply is the basin of the fountain, as in the attached Durer's drawing. The fact that Pupila is dressed and wears an helmet seems to me incompatible with the idea of a nymph: she is clearly near the shore of a body of water, but I am not sure that this is enough to relate her to the epigram. Moreover, I cannot think how the title "Pupila Augusta" could relate to the nymph. So, I am absolutely puzzled by the fact that Gnaccolini has connected the engraving to this poem (which has a well defined iconographic tradition of its own, see also the attached engraving).
Well, why wrote an Italian poet about the Danube?

Campano, so I remember, belongs to the teachers of Lazzarelli (you wrote, that he made the poem in 1464-1470 ... that was just the same, in which Lazzarelli once had been pupil of Campano). Lazzarelli profited from the Emperor visit, being crowned as poetus laureatus. That was 1469, generally Lazzarelli had some stronger connections to Germans, in life and after death. In the case, that Campano wrote after 1469, there's some probability, that Campano also reflected the emperor visit. Fredrick III had been more or less in Austria, not in that, what today is called Germany. The Danube is important in Austria.

When I hear "Pupila Augustus", I also think, that the emperor is not far. "Pupila", I assume, means a part of the eye. Expressing a fountain of the Danube as the eye of Augustus would make sense in 15th century, cause the region, to which the Danube runs, was considered a true aim for a good emperor. Fighting the Osmans, getting all the territory back to Christianity. Venice was just in war with the Osmans in 1469.
The nymph shows armor, yes, perhaps for this reason.
Huck
http://trionfi.com

Re: Duerer and the Master of the Sola Busca Tarocchi

#6
Huck wrote: Well, why wrote an Italian poet about the Danube?

It seems that the reference to the Danube was not by Campano.
Antiquarianism and Intellectual Life in Europe and China:
Through repetition, circulation, and association with material evidence,
such ludic contrivances could take on a specious factual existence.
Huius Nympha Loci was a modern poem, devised perhaps as early
as the 1460s by the humanist Giovanni Antonio Campani, invoking the
classical and pastoral topos of a girl sleeping near water. The poem then
appeared in the anthology of ancient inscriptions compiled by Michael
Fabricius Ferrarinus in the 1470s or 1480s, together with the explanation
that the poem had been found super ripam Danuvii, above the banks
of the Danube, inscribed on a tablet and accompanied by a statue of
a sleeping nymph. From that point on the inscription and the statue
were handed on from sylloge to sylloge, often accompanied by a drawing
of the statue. The Danubian location was remote enough that no one
would bother to check—that was part of the joke.
See also The Sleeping Nymph: Origins af a Humanist Fountain Type.

Re: Duerer and the Master of the Sola Busca Tarocchi

#7
Peggy Muñoz Simonds, in "Myth, Emblem and Music in Shakespeare's Cymbeline", cites MacDougall in the article you indicate as saying that "humanists in Rome associated an ancient statue of Ariadne-Cleopatra with an epigram then believed to be ancient" - that is, our epigram.

http://books.google.fr/books?id=jAamICc ... 22&f=false

The statue of Ariadne in the Vatican, at one time called Cleopatra, appears to be this one -


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleeping_Ariadne

The statue doesn't look like "our" Nymph, but it is obviously the model for the latter two examples you showed, Marco.

I mention it only because the attribution to Cleopatra might explain, if it is relevant at all, the helmet. That is only if we assume a parallel iconography might have existed for the epigram. But again it does not explain the title "Pupila Augusta", nor why the iconography would be so different, with her putting her finger in the water and daydreaming rather than just about to nod off.
Image

Re: Duerer and the Master of the Sola Busca Tarocchi

#9
For the Duerer, I'd guess that the pair at the bottom are Mars and Venus. Think of Botticelli's "Mars and Venus" (http://hoocher.com/Sandro_Botticelli/Ve ... a_1483.jpg), which he would have had described to him or shown imitations. But the "Venus Victorious" theme was common enough, for example in Cossa's April panel at the Schifanoia in Ferrara (http://www.artecultura.fe.it/pix/anticarte/home.jpg). One with a helmet rather like that of the sketch and SB-master engraving is the sketch on the right below, c. 1470 by Marco Zoppo. Mars is represented by the appropriated cuirass, lower left. (I think I got this image from Wind, Pagan Mysteries of the Renaissance. The one on the left is a Minerva pudica, considerably later.) The putti also get carried over into the later works.

Image


In the Duerer engraving, the ladies on the fish seem to me a combination of the Botticelli-type Birth of Venus and her Graces, if a variation on the normal pose is allowed (http://grandiopere.fcp.it/mirabilia-ita ... oia-05.jpg). The fish was a symbol of Venus, I think, not just connoting the sea, but it was what she and Cupid turned into escaping Typhon.

And the lady sitting above and to the left of the couple is perhaps our prophetess, rather more prophetess-looking than the ladies with the sails. She seems to be looking at the "Birth of Venus" scene. She is reminiscent of the old lady in Dosso Dossi's so-called "Myth of Pan" (below), in which a crone is in the act of prophecying, on one standard interpretation. It was done in Ferrara c. 1824, some years after the Duerer, but she might derive from some painting or sketch now lost from when Duerer was in Italy. She (as well as the nude) gives the sketch a kind of Giorgione quality. I could swear I've seen a similar old lady sitting in a similar place in some Renaissance painting, but I'm probably wrong.

Image


As for the engraving by the Master of the Sola-Busca, it would seem, as Zucker says, to be just a relaxed Venus, to me reminiscent of Botticelli's Venus in "Mars and Venus" and Zoppo's sketch, but I' don't know a source of the finger around the basin. (However see below, when I discuss Hungary.) Again, the helmet and putti seem to be a variations on Zoppo's. Since the designer of the SB is said to have been a student or follower of Zoppo, that fits.
"Pupila Augusta" is a conventional epithet of Venus. I will mention the ox-skull at the end of this post.

The relationship of either the Duerer sketch or the SB-master's engraving to the epigram is difficult. I have "read", in a fashion, some of the Hungarian-language monograph by Agnes Ritookne Szalay that Huck linked to, using Google Translate. The most relevant part is pp. 67ff. There was a lot of connection between Hungarians and Italians in the 15th century, and not just with Naples. Several came down to study with Guarino in Ferrara. (And, if I may add, at least one painter went there as well, painting one of the original Belfiore Muses--a couple of which, interestingly enough, after a few centuries ended up in Budapest!) Then at least one of these students, a Kara Laszlo, went to Rome and probably hung out with the Leto crowd in the 60s. And there really were some Roman marbles found on the Danube and brought to Buda, where a Florentine humanist inspected them, the monograph says. Apparently one was of a nymph at a spring. (I am not clear if this was a statue or a stele. Google Translate says "statue", but who knows.) So Laszlo would have talked about it, and the epigram would have been written.

It is also possible that the epigram then was engraved on the statue or stele, or separately, in Buda by Felice Feliciano, the expert on Roman calligraphy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felice_Feliciano). Feliciano went to Buda, Szalay says. He was a spare-time alchemist on the side (confirmed by Wikipedia in their article just cited), and the Romans had written that antimony, in their domains, was to found in just Spain and Hungary. In addition, Szalay quotes a poem of Feliciano's with the words, "Super Ripa Danuvia dicitur esse hoc.”

Then Ferrarinus, a collector of manuscripts, would have heard about it. I would be interested in knowing exactly what he said in his book. He might have just said that the inscription was on the marble, without saying when it was put there!)The statue became well known and was exhibited in the courtyard of the University Library. I'm not clear what happened to it. I think she says that the Turks came and, so the story goes, broke the marble up and used it as tiles in building their baths (suggesting, too, that we're talking about stelae). Archeologists have found what might have been the marble but can't piece enough together.

It is possible that Cranach saw the statue or stele, Szalay says, as he lived in Vienna in 1502-1503 and had a Hungarian friend. If so, it seems to me, it would have been of the "Hypnerotomachia" type, if I may use that term to designate the first use I know of (published 1499) for that pose, with the upper arm bent back instead of lying at the nymph's side.

Image


That's what Cranach, 1515, painted. (And Giorgione, more daringly, 1510: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleeping_Venus_(Giorgione)).

Image


However Cranach might simply have heard about the nymph (indicated in the writing on the upper left) but used the image he saw in the Hypnerotomachia, as I see Charles Sterling suggesting in Fifteenth to Eighteenth Century European Paintings in the Robert Lehman Collection, in his section on Cranach. See http://books.google.com/books?id=7BU-36 ... us&f=false.

But then where did the Hypnerotomachia get its image? I will defer that question until later in this post.

The monograph goes on to say that in the 16th century, the theme of peace somehow became associated with it. That fits in well with the "Venus Victorious" theme and the mood of Duerer's sketch. Even without the disarmed Mars, the gesture of stirring the basin absent-mindedly conveys the theme of tranquility. Then the "cave marble" of the epigram gets explained as the basin, which is really a spring. But I don't quite understand what Szalay is saying. For what it's worth, here is the whole passage, as Google Translate has it (p. 74 of the original). I have highlighted the most relevant bits:
If the nymph is based representation of the XVI took on new forms. century, relaxation, slightly radiate essentially retained. How many has become meaningful to motivated somewhere still common, we could cite many examples. Who vitathatná a Pilgrimage slightly at the end of the tax function well? St. Wolfgang (Austria) Monastery courtyard of the abbey was built in 1515 for ordering the kútszobor. This nymph, a forehand-footed woman, an adjacent dézsából grown trees lying in the company of naughty toys. For the pious pilgrims was assigned to serve with wine could not afford to fölüdítsék long tiring journey. 31 31 Cite another example, that over time, even destiny away from. Melanchthon in Wittenberg in 1560 Praeceptor placed in the tomb of eternal Muse was inspired by a series of peace: "Do not Somnum Rumpel, quiesco 'disciples, the orphaned, intellectual spiritual community, who came to the tomb as "Fons et dogmatum piorum eloquentiae" monumentumához contributed. 32 32

More or less inspired by the Muse community, place of worship had been a slight tax from antiquity to the nimfaszobor. It features a lot of content over the centuries in various forms and preserved. When XVI. At the end of the century, two from the home country of our compatriots were recorded on a Bygone memories of Buda statue, it is certainly not just say iconographic was due. The traditional path leading to them are not known. Perhaps from Buda families brought with them. The Andras Dudith of their company was the same way. That it is not written traditions, but the oral was up there, shows a fragmentary George Henisch version. This community holds the commemorative fölidézése meant that the known to be so many variations on living a perfect reproduction of the original formation of the real, Buda stood. Those who have subscribed, to this statue was a symbol of peace, the beauty creating wealth and tranquility, all that for them the time and space.
Admittedly, this is not much of a connection, whatever the precise translation.Maybe the SB-master thought up the gesture with the basin on his own. (In general, Google Translate's version is not this bad.)

It seems to me unlikely that the "sleeping Ariadne" poses in post-Medieval art were originally inspired by the "Cleopatra" that Ross kindly showed us. The pose is most famously seen in the great Dionysian paintings in Isabella d'Este's Studiola in Mantua and her brother's in Ferrera, Costa's "Myth of Comus", Giovanni Bellini's "Feast of the Gods", and Titian's "Bacchanal of the Andreans". Although these were done after the "Cleopatra" was known, that statue then was identified with Cleopatra, while the paintings were intended as allusions to Ariadne. They were inspired by the Roman-era Dionysian sarcophagi, mostly depicting, yes, sleeping Ariadne.

Here are a few such sarcophagi, some of which are already in articles that have been cited. I want to direct attention primarily to the last image.

Image


The last of these of course is not a photo, but rather a nielo print, which Wendy Sheard in Titian 500, p. 317f, says was inspired by a sketch done around 1480 by a "Mantuan artist." The print looks quite similar in style, although more documentary than artistic, to the Mantegna's school's Dionysian procession prints of that era, which are also inspired by sarcophagi (you might notice some relationship here to the Sola-Busca's fat people, Marco).

Image


Sterling says that the Hypnerotomachia image, too, was inspired by these sarcophagi. He does not say why the arm is different. Perhaps it was just easier to draw. In every other respect, it looks like a copy of the light-colored sarcophagus, which gives us the scene of Pan showing the off-stage Dionysus the sleeping Ariadne after she has been abandoned by Theseus on Naxos.

The Hyperotomachia is very much part of the same milieu as the works we are trying to understand: Zoppo's cuirass is there, though not in the same context, and so is the ox-skull (symbolizing patience and hard-work, which indeed peace requires), which of course also makes its appearance in the Sola-Busca.

Image


Image


In the original: "PATIENTIA EST ORNAMENTVM CVSTODIA ET PROTECTIO VITAE." The interpretation as labor probably derives from Horapollo: "A bull's horn means work," reads Boas's translation (p. 75, in Google Books). The word for "horn" might have been taken to include "skull." Another interpretation comes from Diodorus, repeated by Alberti in The art of building, published 1485, in which the Apis bull is seen "as a symbol of the peaceful arts of agriculture instituted by Osiris" (I am quoting from Curran, The Egyptian Renaissance, p. 74). Although a bull is not its skull, perhaps the one can represent the other; this interpretation fits the theme of peace quite well.

In summary, I think most of the elements in the drawing and engraving are accounted for: Duerer gives us a composite hieroglyph, like those of the Hypnerotomachia, of Venus's peace. But Venus's pose, with a finger in the basin, I can't find a precedent for, beyond the SB-master's engraving. To be sure, nymphs and springs go together, and Venuses, sleeping Ariadnes, and nymphs are interchangeable. But the pose, which Duerer copied, I don't recognize. Perhaps there is a lost antique source, such as the Buda image. More likely the SB-master made it up. He certainly was inventive with his cards. But it is possible that the epigram's "cave marble" was also a stimulus, and news of a discovery in Hungary. However prompted, he hit upon the idea of a spring encased in marble, over which lies a clad Venus rather than a nude nymph, an idea which Duerer copied and expanded upon.

Note: About an hour or two after I originally did my post, I rewrote a few sections, mainly those pertaining to the Cranach and Hypnerotomachia pose, and I added the last paragraph.

Re: Duerer and the Master of the Sola Busca Tarocchi

#10
Hello Mike,
thank you for sharing your notes.
mikeh wrote:For the Duerer, I'd guess that the pair at the bottom are Mars and Venus.
When you refer to “the pair at the bottom” are you suggesting that Mars actually appears in the drawing? As far as I know, art historians (including those at the Royal Collection, where the drawing is) see six women in this picture. But I agree that there is a resemblance with Zoppo's engraving.
mikeh wrote:And the lady sitting above and to the left of the couple is perhaps our prophetess, rather more prophetess-looking than the ladies with the sails.
Nobody has ever suggested that the three figures in the background include a prophetess. It is “pupila augusta” herself that has been interpreted as a hydromancer.
mikeh wrote:"Pupila Augusta" is a conventional epithet of Venus.
The passage from Zucker I quoted at the beginning of the first post contains a similar statement. I could not find any evidence supporting this, nor could make sense of how the expression “pupila augusta” could suggest Venus. Are you quoting Zucker as well, or could you find another source explaining the connection between this epithet and Venus?

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