Re: Update on a historical research

Your translation without point D

The Tarot called “of Charles VI”
Update on the historical research

by Alain Bougearel, member of the Scientific Committee of the Associazione LeTarot

Notice of the BNF [Bibliotheque Nationale de France, i.e., French National Library]

Link to BnF:


The Tarot called "of Charles VI" [TdChVI] was kept by the collector Roger de Gaignières, (1642-1715):

This deck, of which only 17 cards survive, 16 Triumphs or Trumps and a Page of Swords, was falsely attributed to Charles VI by a note of 1392 (?) by Charles Poupart, which mentioned a certain Jacquemin Gringonneur [comments in brackets by translator]: "To Jaquemin Gringonneur, painter, for three packs of cards in gold and in diverse colours, ornamented in many [or several] divisions [devices=suits, per Depaulis, for which see Caldwell below; another possibility is devices=heraldics] to be brought to the said lord King for his entertainment: 56 parisian sols).” («A Jaquemin Gringonneur, peintre, pour trois jeux de cartes à or et à diverses couleurs, ornés de plusieurs devises pour porter devers ledit seigneur roi pour son ebattement : LVI sols parisis».)

Charles Poupart, Registre de la Chambre des Comptes [Register of the Chamber of Accounts], 1392(?)

The note is authentic but would actually refer to a a completely different pack than the TdChVI, as pointed out by Ross Caldwell:

The Gringonneur case:

The TdChVI would probably date from the second half of the 15th century (before 1465?); the images would be Florentine (see the Chariot with the presence of the 7 Palle [Balls] stemma, without the Fleur de Lys given by Louis XI to Piero de’ Medici in May 1465(?) with ordinal numbers added a posteriori and similar to the order of Bologna.

Nevertheless, one will remain cautious because the detailed analysis of the clothing present on each of the TdChVI cards, as studied by one of the highest authorities in the field, Dr. Elisabetta Gnignera, resulted in a mixed origin: Ferrara and Bologna. Nothing prevents us from assuming with some probability that the pack could have been executed by an anonymous painter whose origin would remain ipso facto unknown ...

In addition, the precise dating and exact origin of this beautiful pack are still subject to caution: see below, Remarks in I and Provisional Conclusions in II.

I. REMARKS: uncertainties as to when and where ...

1) The dating is from the results of the examination carried out by the Research Laboratory of the Louvre Museums (1). As Thierry Depaulis points out, they are formal: the pigments used do not allow us to go beyond a very general dating. The presence of flaps, which is emphasized in the analysis report, is evidence of late manufacture, even though, obviously, the drawing and the painting were done once each card was mounted, as is also the case for Rothschild Collection cards »(1)

2) The Order of Triumphs is comparable to the order in the Bolognese tradition. However the numbers on the cards are later than the pictures themselves. But is TdChVI [i.e. its set of numbers] at the origin of this tradition [of numbering], or is it inspired by that tradition?

"The figures shown are those readable, partially or not, at the top of the cards - except for the Hanged Man, where the figure is written at the bottom, 'upside down'. These Roman numerals are drawn in ink and appear slightly after the completion of the cards (first half of the 16th century at the latest)" (1)

"Michael Dummett looked at the Roman numerals written in ink on the top of the cards (except for the case of the Hanged Man) and partially trimmed: we can thus reconstitute an order of triumphs that seems close to the Bolognese tradition ..." [...] "Unless the tarot of Bologna was inspired by it" (1)

(1) Bibliography: Thierry Depaulis, Tarot, Jeu, Magie, [Tarot, Game, Magic], pp. 40 - 41 (Bibliothèque Nationale, 1984)



The TdChVI is a Tarot because it includes a series of Triumphs, as Michael Howard has pointed out: viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1154&start=120#p19498

The dating 1442 for Tarot = triomphorum ludus - offered by the editor of the article of the BnF, written c. 2006, was nonetheless offered in a hypothetical mode, "it seems...:".

"The tarot deck is mentioned for the first time, it seems, in Ferrara, in 1442, under the expression carte da trionfi or triumphorum ludus (triumphs). Around 1500, the term tarocchi appears in a book of accounts of the court of Ferrara. The French transcription "tarot" is met in a document dated 1505."

See (paragraph III).


The oldest reference to the word "Trionfi" is dated September 16, 1440:

As for the first attested mention of the words "Tarochi" (Ferrara) and "Taraux" (Avignon) 1505:

Ferrara 1505, 2 notes of Tarochi reported in: QUANDO SI INIZIA IN PARLARE DI "TAROCCO": FERRARA 1505 by Adriano Franceschini

Archivio di Stato di Modena, Camera ducale Estense, Guardaroba, 126, Conto de debiti e crediti, II semester 1505

c. 93r, 30 giugno:«Conto de merzaria de Guardaroba de' havere... E de' havere adì ultimo dito [giugno] per pare dexedoto de carte videlicet pare oto de tarochi e pare dexe fra schartini e carte de ronfa, quali fono portati a Viguenza, vene di Guradaroba al 3+, a c. 65 ... pare 18»

c. 96r, 26 dicembre: «E de' havere adì ditto per quindexe para de schartini e tarochi fo mandati a Viguenza per el Signore; vene di Guardaroba a 3+, a c. 68....[para] n. 15»

Avignon, Taraux, December 6, 1505: "The first known mentions of the word 'tarot' date from the beginning of the sixteenth century. Up to then called trionfi, it became tarocchi without anyone knowing why. We see it mentioned thus in an order of Duke Alfonso d'Este in Ferrara, and again in a notarized act of Avignon in which the Cardmaker Jean Fort undertakes to deliver "four dozen [packs of] cards commonly called taraux.” (See:

Recommended articles on “taraux” (Avignon) and “tarochi” (Ferrara):

- Depaulis 2013 in Le Tarot Revéle [The Tarot Revealed], translated by M; Howard at: viewtopic.php?f=11&t=502&p=19407#p19407

Vitali at ... 20&lng=ENG

Nonetheless, the expression “tarocus” is found in use 1495, before 1499....

As Andrea Vitali emphasizes, in literature one finds the word Taroch meanng Fool from 1494.

We also know that in literature, Tarocco signified Fool: see “Theroco Wind”

See: “Tarocco sta per Matto”,


Dummett, Depaulis and Vitali in the past noted a kind of similarity between the order of the TdChVI and that of Bologna.

Andrea VITALI:
See: ... 21&lng=ENG

M. HOWARD has recently provided valuable insights regarding this thesis:

Note: Depaulis remarks that the numbers on the cards were added after the pictures - so most probably unnumbered originally.


The Medici Stemma (7 Palle) is present on the TdChVI Chariot.

For the 7 Palle Coat of Arms of the Medici:

Before 1465, under Piero de’ Medici, it is 7 Palle but without the Fleur de Lys, as on the TdChVI Chariot.

Huck Meyer:

Steve Mangan:

This is a rational deduction but it is not unanimous because after 1465 there are still some Stemmas of 7 Palle, no Fleur de Lys.

This would indicate a probable Florentine origin of the images of the initially unnumbered deck.

Summary of the question by Steve Mangan:
viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1154&start=10#p18670 ... Biographie

Re: Le Tarot dit "de Charles VI"

Point D en French


Quel pourrait être le peintre des images du TdChVI ?

La question demeure ouverte.
L' artiste est non identifié à ce jour - inconnu voire anonyme.
Deux noms de peintres retiennent néanmoins l’ attention des chercheurs :
Giovanni di ser Giovanni Guidi (nommé Lo Scheggia)
Apollonio di Giovanni di Tomaso (also known as Apollo di Giovanni)

Arguments Scheggia:
Huck Meyer: viewtopic.php?t=1154&p=20322#p20308

Arguments Appolonio:
Michael Howard: viewtopic.php?t=1154&p=20322#p20310 ... Biographie

Re: Le Tarot dit "de Charles VI"

In bad English. Mikeh? Revision welcomed!

Who could be the painter of TdChVI images?
The question remains open.
The artist is unidentified to this day - unknown or even anonymous.
Two names of painters nevertheless attract the attention of researchers:
Giovanni di ser Giovanni Guidi (called Lo Scheggia)
Apollonio di Giovanni di Tomaso (also known as Apollo di Giovanni)

Arguments Scheggia:
Huck Meyer: ... 150#p20308

Arguments Appolonio:
Michael Howard: ... 150#p20310 ... Biographie

Re: Le Tarot dit "de Charles VI"

As far as dating the CVI deck, I’m still surprised the dress of the surviving court card of the Page of Swords - floral applique and scalloped stitching on a white background - has not been discussed more.

The earliest I have identified this textile pattern in a public context is in the Apollonio di Giovanni cassone, now re-dated from 1440 to c. 1463, but of a public event that happened in 1459 (a joust celebrating a papal and Sforza visit; Lurati’s persuasive re-dating scholarship here: ... rt_Gallery ).

Two banners flank the joust, the left one bearing Sforzan impresa, the right one presumably Florentine or even Medicean (I’ll argue elsewhere the figure on this banner is in fact “Florentia”, per a contemporary anonymous poem that celebrated the events, including the joust, surrounding these state visits; and of course the floral design exhibits the meaning of “florentia”. Newbigin translation here: ... to=download ). The wreaths on the horse’s caparison and the standard bearer’s livery suggest frame wreaths found on title pages of manuscripts, often featuring a coat of arms. The yellow-gold cross-hatched symbol within the wreaths defies clear identification as a coat of arms or impresa but I’d propose it is the same impresa (newly adopted by Cosimo?) of a torch/lantern on Cosimo’s horse bridle in Gozzoli’s Procession of the Magi painting, also featured as a monumental iron lantern on the the prominent corner of the Medici Palazzo, both completed in 1459 – the same year as the joust. The new “lantern” impresa likely died with Cosimo, some half a dozen years later, which helps explain its obscurity (while his son Piero became the main art patron and why his impresa flourished instead). I’d conjecture that Cosimo took the impresa directly from the monumental iron lantern on the Palazzo’s cornerstone location - the impressive palazzo, the seat of government for all intent and purposes, to be the “rock” on which Piero and Lorenzo would continue the dynasty (and of course the Gozzoli Procession of the Magi fresco is within this very palazzo).

Yates Thompson 30 ('The Hours of Laudomia de' Medici'), c. 1500, f. 20v, showing the Medici palazzo on the right, with the lantern clearly visible at the street floor level:

Detail of the palazzo today (the lantern is still there, if not replaced) and Gozzoli "Magi" fresco detail, showing Cosimo and Piero Medici's respective impresa:
Palazzo and fresco.JPG
(112.22 KiB) Not downloaded yet
At all events, the standard-bearer’s dress in the c. 1463 cassone painting looks rudimentary as a staple example of livery, compared to the later examples, but perhaps served as the prototype. These later examples are all much later. They are:
• The terracotta bust of Giuliano de' Medici, by Andrea del Verrocchio, completed sometime from 1475 and his assassination in 1478, a result of the Pazzi Conspiracy, shows the scalloping of the cuirass and upper arm sleeves mimicked by the CVI page's tunic.

Below, the cassone's standard-bearer detail, the CVI Page of Swords and the Verrocchio bust of Giuliano:
(143.56 KiB) Not downloaded yet
• Mythic-allegorical paintings by Botticelli prominently featuring a “Flora” (Florentia) figure, always in similar white dress with floral decoration, and all dating from the early 1480s (Pallas and the Centaur, c. 1482, The Birth of Venus, c. 1485, Primavera c. 1482).

Botticelli floral dress.JPG
(86.55 KiB) Not downloaded yet

While there is no pattern on the dress to be discerned on the medal below, also note “Florentia” was recycled by Lorenzo at this same time as Botticelli’s paintings on the reverse of a medal, following the precedent of the medal commemorating his grandfather Cosimo’s death (the point being it was a later Lorenzo theme, not one that was espcially popular in the 1460s before his rule, aside from the 1459 event that served as the copied exemplar):


In sum, the CVI page’s dress matches the Medici symbolism associated with Flora/Florentia, the earliest version seemingly dating from c. 1463 (from an event in 1459). Based on this, the CVI could date as early as the early 1460s (although that exemplar featured centrally placed wreaths), but bears a closer resemblance to the details of Lorenzo’s brother’s decorative cuirass/sleeves scallops of the late 1470s and Botticelli’s floral bedecked allegories of the early 1480s. Therefore I am still inclined to date the CVI to right after the 1478 Pazzi Conspiracy – Giuliano’s assassination explaining the black shield held by the page (and surely the entire suit of Swords, the highest suit which would have reflected on the Medici, were dressed the same and reflected the commissioner’s own iconic symbolism for his state).

Having said all that, I suppose I should allow a c. 1459 dating, given my own older post in which I identified the script on Piero’s calze in the “Magi” fresco (“A definitive Medici marker on the CVI page of swords?” Here: viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1159&hilit=A+defin ... CVI#p18744 ), which might simply place the CVI among the items of Florentine festal pomp for the visiting Galeazzo Maria Sforza, Count of Pavia and the eldest son of Francesco Sforza.
The Piero calze (which can be compared to the CVI Page of Swords above).
Palazzo Medici.jpg
(239.01 KiB) Not downloaded yet
Gozzoli Cosimo and Piero impresa.JPG
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Re: Le Tarot dit "de Charles VI"

Phaeded wrote:
29 Aug 2018, 00:08
As far as dating the CVI deck, I’m still surprised the dress of the surviving court card of the Page of Swords - floral applique and scalloped stitching on a white background - has not been discussed more.

Thanks Phaeded for this clear presentation
As you noted, a discussion of these elements has taken place on THF.
Thread starting at : : viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1159&hilit=A+defin ... ici%2C+CVI

Reading all the posts will help the readers to understand better the topic opened by you. ... Biographie

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