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The Cary-Yale Visconti

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EDIT: This discussion is split from another thread into this new thread.


One of the mysteries, and I suppose you might have already answered this.. is the form of the Cary-Yale. When I look at it, I see an "attempt" to "clarify" or "rectify" the Virtues.. it "adds" Faith, Hope and Charity. Why didn't it add Prudence like the Minchiate? Don't you think it odd that a deck would have 6 of the 7 Virtues? Of course.. this leads to the question if Prudence was understood already to be represented by an existing card.. like the Chariot.. my personal favorite right now to show her.

And I *still* have to wonder *if* the Cary-Yale "Faith" did not "evolve" into the Popess.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by le pendu
One of the mysteries, and I suppose you might have already answered this.. is the form of the Cary-Yale. When I look at it, I see an "attempt" to "clarify" or "rectify" the Virtues.. it "adds" Faith, Hope and Charity. Why didn't it add Prudence like the Minchiate?
I'd say it's too fragmentary to exclude the possibility that it was included.

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Don't you think it odd that a deck would have 6 of the 7 Virtues? Of course.. this leads to the question if Prudence was understood already to be represented by an existing card.. like the Chariot.. my personal favorite right now to show her.
It could be, I share your sentiment. Auriga Virtutum is nice... I intend to trumpet this notion when I come to interpret the card. Of course, it is mediated by Dante's Beatrice and Petrarch's Laura as embodiments of Virtue (Chastity overcoming Love in the Petrarchan Triumphs; then the Virtues help the old man overcome the vissicitudes of Fortune).

Quote:
And I *still* have to wonder *if* the Cary-Yale "Faith" did not "evolve" into the Popess.
She is suggestive in that direction. My notion at present is that the Popess did evolve in the tarot deck. At first it would have been two non-descript Popes, distinguished from one another merely by one holding the book and cross, the other holding keys (or whatever); same for the Emperors. Other distinctions found favor over time, including Male-Female. Thus you get an Empress and a Popess, or, to be fair, a female-male imperial pair and a female-male papal pair.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by le pendu
One of the mysteries, and I suppose you might have already answered this.. is the form of the Cary-Yale. When I look at it, I see an "attempt" to "clarify" or "rectify" the Virtues.. it "adds" Faith, Hope and Charity. Why didn't it add Prudence like the Minchiate?
Perhaps it did add prudence like the Minchiate, we don't know how complete a pack it is. Indeed, maybe it is the remants of an early example of a Minchiate type deck. The objection to this is that the suggested dating of the deck is way too early for a Minchiate type pattern. The objection to the objection is that perhaps it is the early dating of the deck that is wrong, by maybe as much as a century, and that it should rather be dated to the first half of the 16th century. There would I imagine be a reluctance to openly consider such on some historians part, there being to much of an investment made in and conclusion made from this early dating. Some historians with an anti-occultist tendency would I think be even less open to such a possibility, as the existing suggested dating provides a chronological barrier to some extent to some of the neo-platonic, hermetic and qabalistic ideas occultists would have us believe were an influence on the tarot.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by kwaw
Perhaps it did add prudence like the Minchiate, we don't know how complete a pack it is. Indeed, maybe it is the remants of an early example of a Minchiate type deck. The objection to this is that the suggested dating of the deck is way too early for a Minchiate type pattern. The objection to the objection is that perhaps it is the early dating of the deck that is wrong, by maybe as much as a century, and that it should rather be dated to the first half of the 16th century. There would I imagine be a reluctance to openly consider such on some historians part, there being to much of an investment made in and conclusion made from this early dating. Some historians with an anti-occultist tendency would I think be even less open to such a possibility, as the existing suggested dating provides a chronological barrier to some extent to some of the neo-platonic, hermetic and qabalistic ideas occultists would have us believe were an influence on the tarot.

Kwaw
The better objection is that the dating of the creation of the Minchiate trumps might be too late. But it is probably better to believe that the Cary-Yale was a unique experiment, and not an early Minchiate - there are six court cards in each suit after all, which is sui generis.

Dating the Cary-Yale to the early sixteenth century is highly implausible. If so, it would have to be a deliberate anachronism, and a very convincing one. Filippo Maria Visconti's golden ducato is on all of the Coins. He died in 1447. Also, Bonifacio Bembo is probably the artist, and he died a little after 1477. See Kaplan II, 120-137 for a good account of his life with a lot of examples of his known work and works attributed to him. The V-S deck is also attributed to him (except for six trumps, of course).

The Brambilla pack also has Filippo Maria Visconti's ducats as the Coins suit.

Also, all these decks are in a style consistent with the mid-fifteenth century.

Thus, the resistance to a 16th century dating of the Visconti and Visconti-Sforza decks has everything to do with strong internal and external evidence, and nothing to do with prior investment in the date or to antagonism to the idea of occultism or neo-platonism having something to do with the tarot.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ross G Caldwell
The better objection is that the dating of the creation of the Minchiate trumps might be too late. But it is probably better to believe that the Cary-Yale was a unique experiment, and not an early Minchiate - there are six court cards in each suit after all, which is sui generis.

Dating the Cary-Yale to the early sixteenth century is highly implausible. If so, it would have to be a deliberate anachronism, and a very convincing one. Filippo Maria Visconti's golden ducato is on all of the Coins. He died in 1447. Also, Bonifacio Bembo is probably the artist, and he died a little after 1477. See Kaplan II, 120-137 for a good account of his life with a lot of examples of his known work and works attributed to him. The V-S deck is also attributed to him (except for six trumps, of course).

The Brambilla pack also has Filippo Maria Visconti's ducats as the Coins suit.

Also, all these decks are in a style consistent with the mid-fifteenth century.

Thus, the resistance to a 16th century dating of the Visconti and Visconti-Sforza decks has everything to do with strong internal and external evidence, and nothing to do with prior investment in the date or to antagonism to the idea of occultism or neo-platonism having something to do with the tarot.
Artistic styles and conventions are very limited in their capacity to fix dates, lower limits maybe, but upper is more controversial. It is very possible conservative artists, schools of art and commercial workshops of the early 16th century were still using conventions, styles and model books of the 15th [and also then as now, there were retrospectice fashions].

Bembo is certainly a possibility; given dates to work within people have looked for someone with a suitable style and connection and Bembo fits the bill, just about. However, Bembo was not a particular distinguished artist, not someone of whose art someone would look at and say 'Ah, thats a Bembo'. More likely I think, or at least equally possible, is that the deck was created by an anonymous artist from some commercial workshop, that there maybe similarities with Bembo is a reflection of the fact Bembo was a very conventional artist using techniques, models, formulae and conventions in the toolbox of any commercial artist of the 15th and 16th centuries.

The ducats I think are the most convincing evidence; and certainly at least provide a lowest dating limit, and possibly a higher. That does not mean however that one should not be open to other possibilities. For example Francis I was keen on establishing the link between the Visconti's and Savoys in his own claim to Milan, and possibly the decks particular reference to the early visconti, husband of Maria of Savoy, reflected the propagandist interests of the court of Francis I - such a possibility [if indeed it is one] gives us an expanded dating range from first half of 15th century to say c.1529.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by kwaw
The ducats I think are the most convincing evidence; and certainly at least provide a lowest dating limit, and possibly a higher. That does not mean however that one should not be open to other possibilities. For example Francis I was keen on establishing the link between the Visconti's and Savoys in his own claim to Milan, and possibly the decks particular reference to the early visconti, husband of Maria of Savoy, reflected the propagandist interests of the court of Francis I - such a possibility [if indeed it is one] gives us an expanded dating range from first half of 15th century to say c.1529.

Kwaw
According to Timothy Betts:

"The French used Visconti heraldry extensively. The viper and gold fiorini coin of the Visconti-Modrone deck also appear on Louis XII and Francis I's coins for Milan, as does the Visconti ducal crown and imperial Eagle.
Identifying the bride as Loise of Savoy also permits the conclusion, often put forward but rejected, that the Visconti-Modrone deck is an early, 105 card Minchiate deck with its faith, hope and charity cards. Minchiate, an offshoot of Tarot, was invented around 1530, so this conclusion is impossible for cards belonging to Filippo Maria Visconti - but now it fits... Its even possible all the hand-painted cards are associated with Francis I and the D'Estes of Ferrara."

Betts considers most of the hand-painted cards to date c.1520-40.

Kwaw
Tarot and the Millenium by Timothy Betts (1998, p.107)
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Kwaw are you saying that Betts thinks the Visconti hand painted cards are later than they are thought to be now?(by nearly a century) Secondly the Visconti that are left are a Minchiate type group? ~Rosanne
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kwaw
According to Timothy Betts:

"The French used Visconti heraldry extensively. The viper and gold fiorini coin of the Visconti-Modrone deck also appear on Louis XII and Francis I's coins for Milan, as does the Visconti ducal crown and imperial Eagle.
I'm not going to research this claim myself. I want to see the "gold fiorini coin of the Visconti-Modrone deck" that Betts claims Louis XII and Francis I used in their coins for Milan. Does he provide an illustration?

Louis' claims on Milan come from Gian Galeazzo through his daughter Valentina, not Filippo Maria anyway - why would he want to link himself with the latter, whose daughter is identified with the Sforzas?

Louis was descended from the Visconti (Gian Galeazzo, not Filippo Maria), so there is nothing suspicious about him using the family's heraldry - especially after he conquered Milan.

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Identifying the bride as Loise of Savoy also permits the conclusion, often put forward but rejected, that the Visconti-Modrone deck is an early, 105 card Minchiate deck with its faith, hope and charity cards. Minchiate, an offshoot of Tarot, was invented around 1530,
Why do you think Betts categorically accepts this hypothetical date for the invention of the Minchiate, but rejects the dates for the Visconti cards? Does he say why Minchiate was invented around 1530? (and not, for example, 1430?)

Quote:
so this conclusion is impossible for cards belonging to Filippo Maria Visconti - but now it fits... Its even possible all the hand-painted cards are associated with Francis I and the D'Estes of Ferrara."

Betts considers most of the hand-painted cards to date c.1520-40.

Tarot and the Millenium by Timothy Betts (1998, p.107)
I think Betts is alone in thinking that. If his ideas have been seriously debated by playing card historians, I am not aware where. Probably they have been dismissed, most likely on the grounds that they are baseless.

Unless he can show Louis or François using Filippo Maria Visconti's ducato, there is nothing to his theory (the ducato was not unique to Filippo Maria).
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ross G Caldwell
Unless he can show Louis or François using Filippo Maria Visconti's ducato, there is nothing to his theory (the ducato was not unique to Filippo Maria).
Well, another problem with the Filippo Maria Visconti ducato, according to Andy Pollet's site, is that it is entirely fictitious, such a coin as represented on the Visconti-Modrone deck, a gold ducato with the name Filippo on it, never existed, it is artistic invention. Not only is it not unique to Filippo Maria, such was never even imprinted in the reign of Filippo Maria.

"Quite surprisingly, though, during Filippo Maria's reign only a silver coin (grosso) was stricken, while the gold ducato was first issued by Francesco Sforza. The actual coin featured the same cavalier as the one reproduced in both the aforesaid tarots, but with a more impersonal inscription, DUX MEDIOLANI, "duke (lord) of Milan", as the picture on the right clearly shows. But why such an important coin that Francesco Sforza had issued, and was certainly proud of, in these tarots bore the name of the previous ruler?

To play the part of the devil's advocate, we should also remark that Filippo Maria Visconti barely tolerated his second wife Maria of Savoy (a well-known fact): it would have been strange if this whimsical duke had commemorated such an unhappy wedding with a deck of cards.

Furthermore, the painter who is presently credited as the author of these tarots, in 1428 was still too young to be active (refering here to Bembo), and it would have been even more unlikely for Filippo Maria to have this tarot made for the 10th or 15th anniversary of his wedding.

Most elements seem to suggest that the so-called Cary-Yale Visconti tarot was painted while the Sforza family had already seized the duchy of Milan, but at the same time it celebrates only the name and devices of the previous duke, Filippo Maria.
In order to explain this apparently controversial situation, we may think that during his reign, Francesco Sforza may have dedicated a tribute to his predecessor and father-in-law by having two (or maybe more) commemorative tarots painted with Filippo Maria's name and family devices, which were also adopted by the Sforza. In these decks, the recently stricken ducato coin might have been chosen as a source of inspiration for the pips in the suit of Coins, in honour of Francesco Sforza who had issued it.
Seen from the opposite end, the gold coin may have been fictional by the time the tarot was painted, and later on Francesco Sforza, inspired by the knight pattern, may have decided to strike a real one, with a different motto.
But since over six centuries have elapsed, these are (and will probably remain) only conjectures."
end quote from:
http://it.geocities.com/a_pollett/cards31.htm

To play devil's advocate, if it is feasible that the gold ducat on the Visconti-Modrone was commemorative, in memory of Filippo Maria, it may just as easily have been made as such under Francis I as under Sforza, Francis I's own parents were a Visconti desscendant and Loise of Savoy [and it is feasable as any other explanation, that it is this marriage commemorated on the lovers card as any other], and perhaps in commemorating Filippo also is done so in memory of a previous Union of Visconti-Savoy.

Andy Pollett also has a section on who painted the cards, which may be of interest to some:

http://it.geocities.com/a_pollett/cards32.htm#author

The fact is, dating by artistic style, or by a suggested painter [of which not all agree with], the significance of fictitious gold ducats, and of visconti-savoy emblematic devices, are all problematic and open to conjecture that various interpretations may date the deck anywhere from c.1428 to say 1529 [when Francis I gave up his claim to Milan].

{I too am unaware of any debate on Betts dating theories, probably they have been dismissed as baseless by the historians, and felt not worth their efforts to refute}

BTW: These next two galleries on Andy's site, featuring a moorish deck c.1400, and a 16th deck printed in a book with sayings and principles in German and Latin [linking cards with emblemata?] are new to me: Have you seen them? They are very interesting:

http://it.geocities.com/a_pollett/cards66.htm

"The cards were not printed as sheets, but as pages, bound together into a book. Besides the illustrations, these pages featured sayings and moral principles in German and Latin.
It is not clear whether the playing cards, whose details are very fancy and accurate, were only used as a pretext for describing the sayings, or were meant to be cut out by the reader, so to obtain a real deck of cards, more or less in the fashion of some modern picture books for making paper models, stencils, etc."

http://it.geocities.com/a_pollett/cards77.htm

Italy 2: A moorish deck c.1400.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kwaw
Well, another problem with the Filippo Maria Visconti ducato, according to Andy Pollet's site, is that it is entirely fictitious, such a coin as represented on the Visconti-Modrone deck, a gold ducato with the name Filippo on it, never existed, it is artistic invention. Not only is it not unique to Filippo Maria, such was never even imprinted in the reign of Filippo Maria.

"Quite surprisingly, though, during Filippo Maria's reign only a silver coin (grosso) was stricken, while the gold ducato was first issued by Francesco Sforza. The actual coin featured the same cavalier as the one reproduced in both the aforesaid tarots, but with a more impersonal inscription, DUX MEDIOLANI, "duke (lord) of Milan", as the picture on the right clearly shows. But why such an important coin that Francesco Sforza had issued, and was certainly proud of, in these tarots bore the name of the previous ruler?
This is not true, and Andy should update his site. Carlo Crippa published Filippo Maria's gold ducat in his comprehensive study of Milanese coinage. See my page here -
http://www.angelfire.com/space/tarot/ducato.html

The inscription on the horse-side reads - FILIPVS MARIA ANGLVS
The shield-side has FI MA (=Filippo Maria), and around the coin DVX MED IOLA NUM (Dux Mediolanum, Duke of Milan).

While the exact year is impossible to determine, Crippa says (IIRC) that it was struck until 1447.
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