Hi Robert, Billie,
I received a question on the TH weblog:
As true tarot historians, perhaps you can tell me the year that the Morgan Library first displayed its Visconti Sforza cards? I believe I saw them in the early sixties, before I read Moakley's 1966 study. Have tried to contact the ML by e-mail, but received no reply on this.
Billie Potts, Summit, NY
If anyone knows the answer to help Billie out, please either add a comment to the page here:http://www.tarothistory.com/2008/04/08/ ... ory-forum/
or simply reply here and I'll pass it on.
I don't know the answer to that question, but I love trivia, so I went looking.
None of Moakley (1966), Dummett (1980, 1986), or Bandera (1999) mention exhibition dates of the Pierpont Morgan library's cards, so I checked their own site (I don't have Moakley's 1956 paper on the subject, but she might have mentioned an exhibition there. On the other hand, the 1950s would be too early for what Billie saw).
They don't have a comprehensive list of all of their exhibitions, but they do say of a 2006 exhibition:
http://www.themorgan.org/exhibitions/ex ... .asp?id=11
Also on view are the Morgan's thirty-five hand-painted tarot cards from the Visconti-Sforza deck by Bonifacio Bembo and family (ca.1450). The cards form the most complete and one of the earliest and most important fifteenth-century sets known. They will all be on display together at the Morgan for the first time in more than twenty years.
Therefore, the last
exhibition (before 2006) was in the early 1980s.
What about the earliest
The library was only opened to the public in 1924 -http://www.themorgan.org/about/default.asp
so it has to be after that date.
Google Books comes up with a catalogue, unviewable, but giving a result that indicates they were shown in 1939 -
http://books.google.fr/books?q=%22pierp ... des+livres
M.630 Thirty-five Italian Playing Cards for the 'Venetian or Lombard' version
... Three of the cards may have been painted by Antonio Cicognara of Cremona,
(keywords - "pierpont morgan" +library +exhibition +cards)
This quote is from the catalogue Illustrated Catalogue of an Exhibition Held on the Occasion of the New York World's Fair, 1939. New York, May through October, 1939
(Pierpont Morgan Library, 1940)
(the book seems to be available for around US $30)
So, I would say that the earliest public exhibition of the cards that I can find is 1939.
For Billie's viewing, it seems there must have been an exhibition in the early 1960s as well, but so far it I can't trace it. It seem possible that such an exhibition is what encouraged Gertrude Moakley to write a book (i.e. there was sufficient interest to justify a book, rather more expansive than her article).
Interesting question. Please share if you get a more exact chronology of exhibitions of these 35 cards.