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Meanings of crown with branches on Cary-Yale Visconti cards?

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Artifice  Artifice is offline
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Meanings of crown with branches on Cary-Yale Visconti cards?


I had the privilege of spending the day at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale yesterday, studying their Visconti cards. Amazing!

I'm now trying to make sense of some of the more obscure symbols and motifs on the cards. I've figured some of them out via online research, but am not sure about others.

One in particular which I'm curious about is a symbol of a crown with 2 different types of branches passing thru it. You can see this on the clothing of the Male Page of Cups and the King of Cups, and on the clothing and horse blanket of the Male Knight of Cups:

http://brbl-dl.library.yale.edu/vufind/Record/3432607
http://brbl-dl.library.yale.edu/vufind/Record/3432606
http://brbl-dl.library.yale.edu/vufind/Record/3432605

I've tracked down info on some other Visconti motifs (the serpent with a child in its mouth, the dove with a ribbon on a sunburst). But this is one I haven't found any solid explanation for.

However, PCS uses the same symbol on her Ace of Swords. I've seen the branches on that card identified as either olive and laurel, or olive and palm. The latter explanation is from the text in a Tarot app on my phone, which identifies them as representing, respectively, mercy and severity.

I see that the olive and palm branches are found in various countries' coats of arms (Malta, Venezuela, etc.).

So: Does the crown with branches on the Visconti Cups court cards represent a ruler who is capable of being both merciful and severe? That would be the meaning I'd guess at. But I'd really love to get a more authoritative explanation of why this symbol appears on the Visconti cards.

I'd also love to know if PCS got it from the Visconti deck, or from somewhere else. Anybody know anything?
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Abrac  Abrac is offline
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Lucky you! That must've been a thrill to see those cards in person. I'm glad to see the images are finally back up on the website.

Stuart Kaplan says the crown is a Visconti heraldic device and calls it a ducal crown with fronds. I don't know if it's a generic heraldic device, like a lion rampant, or if it was used only by the Viscontis. I looked it up online but didn't find much. More research would be needed.

In a review of the Waite-Smith deck that Waite wrote for The Occult Review, he said, "I may mention that the artist, Miss Colman Smith, made a careful examination of numerous tarot packs from the 14th century onwards before undertaking her work."

So I guess it's theoretically possible she got the idea from a Visconti deck.
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Coins for the Duchy of Milan sometimes showed a crown with two palm fronds in it (or a palm & laurel/olive?), rising above and over the sides.

Here is a crest from the Sforza tower, c. 1477, with two different types of fronds:
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-xAYPXoOqqp...stle-MI_01.jpg

The TdM Ace of Swords may have been a model for the RWS.

...and the Visconti/Sforza for the TdM?
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DoctorArcanus  DoctorArcanus is offline
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An interesting discussion here (footnote 3 p. 165):
http://www.rocculi.it/files/pdf/95Rocculi06.pdf

The device is called “li piumai” (the feathers). According to Luca Beltrami, the emblem is related to the concession of the title of Duke to Gian Galeazzo Visconti. It was used by his successors as a honorific symbol of sovereignty. On the contrary, Decembrio says it was conceded by Alfonso I [should be V?] of Aragon, King of Naples, as a reward to Filippo Maria Visconti. This thesis is supported by a 1512 manuscript: “he received as a gift a crown decorated with palm and olive branches with the privilege that the future Dukes of Milan could bring these palm and olive branches above the ducal crown”. This seems to exclude that the device was assigned to Gian Galeazzo Visconti, as strenuously asserted by Beltrami.

Quote:
Impresa chiamata “li piumai”, emblema riferito alla concessione del titolo di duca a Gian
Galeazzo Visconti, secondo il Beltrami (cfr. L. BELTRAMI, Divixia Vicecomitorum,
Milano 1910, p. 57). Fu adoperata in seguito dai successori quale simbolo onorifico di
sovranità. Fu attribuita invece ad una concessione di Alfonso I d’Aragona, re di Napoli, in
segno di riconoscimento nei riguardi di Filippo Maria Visconti dal Decembrio (cfr. P.C.
DECEMBRIO, Vita Philippi Mariae tertij Ligurum ducis, in: Rerum Italicarum Scriptores,
Milano 1723-51, XX, cap. XXX). Tesi supportata, anche da un manoscritto del castello
(cfr. F. CASTELLO, Compendium vitae Principum et Ducum Mediolani, 1512 Biblioteca
Ambrosiana, Milano, codice 295A: “dono recepit coronam cum palma et oliva decoratam
cum privilegio quod tam ipse quam futuri Mediolani duces possent has palman et olivam in
summitate coronae ducalis portare”, che porterebbe ad escludere l’assegnazione
dell’impresa a Gian Galeazzo Visconti, difesa strenuamente dal Beltrami
See also:
http://base-devise.edel.univ-poitier...dex.php?id=657
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Ross G Caldwell  Ross G Caldwell is offline
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Decembrio doesn't mention Alfonso's donation of the emblem; this is only attested in Castelli (1572), as far as I can tell. I also don't know where Beltrami gets Gian Galeazzo's use of it - this also seems unsupported.

Here is Decembrio, with notes -

XXX. De vexillorum eius imaginibus.

Vexillo primum gentili ac bipartito aquilarum viperarumque discrimine, deinde paterno usus est, quod a Francisco Petrarca editum plerique prodidere, hoc in preliis uti consuevit, turturis figuram preferente in solis iubare. Post diademate, palma et lauro illustri, non vexilla modo, sed preclara domus sue decoravit.

Imprese inscritte sulle sue bandiere

Usò dapprima l’impresa di famiglia: bipartito d’aquile e di vipere; quindi quella paterna – da attribuire, nell’opinione dei più, a Francesco Petrarca – con colomba in un nimbo di sole: ed era la sua usuale in battaglia. Poi, oltre alle bandiere, fece decorare anche le zone nobili di palazzo con un’impresa formata da una corona, un ramo di palma e uno di preclaro alloro.
(Elio Bartolini, ed. and trans., Vita di Filippo Maria Visconti, Milano : Adelphi, 1983; p. 70)

At first he used the family emblem: bipartite eagles and vipers; then that used by his father – given to him, according to many, by Francis Petrarch – with a turtledove in a solar nimbus, and this was his usual one in battle. Afterwards, he decorated not only his standards, but also his palaces, by a crown with illustrious palm and laurel.

The Zanichelli Muratori footnote to this passage on the crown with palm and laurel (Attilio Butti, Felice Fossati, Giuseppe Petraglione, eds., Petri Candidi Decembrii: Opuscula Historica; Rerum Italicarum Scriptores / Raccolta degli Storici Italiani, t. XX, parte I (Bologna: Zanichelli, n.d. [c. 1925]), pp. 138-139):

Passo cit. da Töchon d’Anneci, Notice sur une médeaille de Philippe-Marie Visconti duc de Milan, Parigi, 1816, p. 6 no. 2, a proposito delle due palme della medaglia ; da Carta, Codici ecc., cit., p. 34 n. 1 di p. 33, ove riafferma che il monogramma IHS sormontato dalla corona è a ritenersi una vera impresa di Filippo Maria : egli ne iniziò l’uso ne’ codd. Viscontei. Il C. avverte inoltre, p. 79 n. 2, che, mentre, secundo questo luogo del Decembrio e l’esempio di molti codd., della corona dovrebbere far parte un ramo di palma e uno di lauro, i miniatori, per ignoranza e per capriccio, si contentavano di dipingere due rami talvolta fantastici. E ancora è cit. il Decembrio da Mugnier, op. cit., che, p. 31, tra gli emblemi e le divise da Filippo Maria usati volontieri mette « la couronne ducale de laquelle s’échappent un rameau de laurier ou d’olivier aux fruits bruns et une palme à fruits rouges », e, p. 48 n. 1, ripete come il monogramma I.H.S. sormontato da corona ducale fosse da lui inaugurato e usato spessissimo ; per la medesima corona sormontante un ornamento e da cui partono a destra e a sinistra gli stessi rami, usata come fregio d’un foglio del cod., ib., p. 57. Per le imprese di Filippo Maria nella basilica di Monza, compresa quella della corona con rami di palma e di olivo e col motto « a bon droit », Venturi, Storia dell’arte italiana, vol. VII, parte I, Milano, 1910, pp. 287 sg.. Per il monogramma PIII sormontato dalla corona con due rami d’olivo e di palma in qualche moneta, Giulini, Memorie ecc. cit., VI, p. 413, cf. p. 206; per un elmo coronato con due rami, olivo e palma, in un’altra moneta, ibidem; per una moneta recante l’arme ducale inquartata con la biscia e l’aquila e, sopra, due rami dip alma, ib., p. 412; per uno stemma con corona ducale e fronde di lauro e d’olivo, Sant’Ambrogio, Colonna votive con tabernacoletto ecc., in Archivio storico Lombardo, n. XIX, 1892, f. III, pp. 675, 681, cf. infra, cap. LI, nota. Leggiamo in Castelli, Compendium vitae Principum et Ducum Mediolani, del 1512, ms. Ambrosiano N 295 A, f. 41 v, che da re Alfonso e fratelli liberati, Filippo Maria dono recepit coronam cum palma et olive decoratam, cum privilegio quod tam ipse quam future Mediolani duces possent has palmam et olivam in summitate coronae ducalis portare.
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Ross G Caldwell  Ross G Caldwell is offline
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The device is called the "piumai". Franca Guerreri writes about it here -

http://www.storiadimilano.it/arte/imprese/Imprese06.htm

"... the celebrated "piumai". This is a crown of nobility studded with precious stones, passed through by two interlaced branches of palm and olive. The olive is always a symbol of peace, while the palm signifies humility and capacity of adaptation."

"... i famosi “piumai”. Si tratta di una corona nobiliare tempestata di pietre preziose, attraversata da due rami intrecciati di palma e d’ulivo. L’ulivo è da sempre simbolo di pace, la palma indica umiltà e capacità di adattamento."
etc.

This page, in French, talks about its obscure origins and strong associations with Naples, as well as with the Visconti -
http://base-devise.edel.univ-poitier...ex.php?id=1226
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Abrac  Abrac is offline
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Hi kwaw. Yeah the TdM seems more likely as it's basically a carbon copy.
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DoctorArcanus  DoctorArcanus is offline
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Thank you for the corrections and the additional information, Ross!
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