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Costa's Triumphs in Bentivoglio's Chapel

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Costa's Triumphs in Bentivoglio's Chapel


The recent threads have gone in so many directions I thought perhaps these two works might be more comfortable in their own. A tourist website includes the following comment.

Quote:
We now come to the most interesting part, both historically and artistically, of the church -- the Bentivoglio Chapel. This was founded in 1445 by Annibale Bentivoglio, and afterwards enlarged by Giovanni II, Lord of Bologna, on the occasion of his coming off victorious from the conspiracy of the Malvezzi family. He caused it to be decorated by two paintings in gouache showing the triumph of Life and Death by Lorenzo Costa in 1488, and the Apocalyptic Vision in the big lunette, restored later by Carlo Cignani, who added the nude figure of the shepherd and the Annunciation.
David J. Drogin, (the chapter "Bologna's Bentivoglio Family and its Artists", in Artists at Court, 2004) described the works as follows. He begins with the context, including a facing painting.

Quote:
At San Giacomo Maggiore, Giovanni II decorated the Bentivoglio Chapel after its consecration in 1487. Here, Giovanni created a space that articulated a linear, dynastic continuity and his connections to other courts. As the family's main devotional site, the chapel was important for the dissemination of the useful imagery; it was here that Giovanni brought visiting dignitaries and created knights after he received the privilege, broadcasting his princely glory. On this subject and the chapel's decoration, Ghirardacci wrote that the chapel "not only for a private gentlemen, but also for an emperor, would have been appropriate" (non solo ad un gentilhuomo privato, ma ad un imperatore sarebbe bastevole). Its importance is underlined by the apparent absence of a chapel inside the palace; this required papal dispensation, whcih the Medici received but the Bentivoglio did not.

Costa is the chapel's most significant presence, although Francia painted the altarpiece of 1494. Costa's portrait (dated 1488) of Giovanni II, Ginevre, and children before a Virgin and Child is informative in several respects.... As Paul Nieuwenhuizen noted, in some respects the painting is more a group portrait than a devotional image (note the hats on Giovanni's and sons' heads), despite the inscription that declares it as such. More importantly, the portrait defines membership: during tensions with Sante's descendants, it delimits dynasty, picturing Giovanni's heirs adjacent to another Costa painting of his ancestors.

Note also that the family is facing outward, not at the Virgin and Child. This is the family's portrait, with Virgin and Child as accoutrement.

Quote:
Across from the family portrait, Costa painted two allegorical processions dated 1490: the Triumph of Death and the Triumph of Fame (and Fortune), subjects provided by Petrarch's Triumphi.... Parallels between Petrarch's text and Costa's images are scarce; Petrarch's verses were likely an inspirational source, rather than a specific textual one. Nevertheless, there are some correspondences. In the Triumphus Mortis, for instance, Petrarch wrote: "Here were those that were called happy, popes, rulers, emperors; now they are nude, miserable and mendicant. Where now are their riches? Where are their honors?" ... In Costa's painting, behind the carriage of Death appear a pope, a bishop, a cardinal, and others in courtly and military dress. Naked figures follow, expressing in spatial arrangement the chronology of Petrarch's verse.... Elsewhere, Petrarch wrote of living, virtuous women and a noble company who come to witness if Death is kind. In the painting, there are portraits of Bentivoglio daughters standing before the procession as onlookers, representing these virtuous women. Recall too that the family, using the chapel and gathered before these paintings, brought into being Petrarch's witnesses of noble company. When physically absent, they were (and are) nonetheless present in painted form, opposite in Costa's portrait of the family. The group portrait helps the viewer identify the Bentivoglio family members represented in the Triumph paintings.


The Triumph of Fame (and Fortune) appears to have fewer correspondences between text and image. Warriors and scholars are enumerated in Petrarch's text, however the image yields few clues that permit definitive identification. The painting's most enigmatic feature is the sky-borne tabellone. Here, small figures interact in abbreviated, enigmatic narratives. Deciphering these, Wendy Wegener suggested that the painting conflates a Triumph of Fame -- the natural partner to the Triumph of Death in a Petrarchian framework -- and a Triumph of Fortune, in which the roundel represents a Wheel of Fortune. In it, historical and literary events around its circumference mark degrees of Fortune's favor according to the position on the wheel.

Quote:
Endnote: From the top, clockwise, the scenes represent Ventidius Bassus, the mule diver[sic] who became Tribune; the Greek athlete Milo bound to a tree being devoured by beasts; the Samnites defeating the Roman army at the Caudine Forks; the physician of Alexander the Great; the Lydian king Croesus spared from burning by the Persian emperor Cyrus; Augustus and cavalry fallen in a ravine after a bridge collapse; Philip of Macedon's murder; and Julius Caesar fleeing Pompey. Scenes of Creation and Cain slaying Abel are at center. Wendy Wegener, "Mortuary Chapels of Renaissance Condottieri" (Ph.D. dissertation, Princeton University, 1989), pp. 194-205.
The Bentivoglio's interest in Fortune is demonstrated by a tournament in 1490, the same year that Costa painted these scenes. There is a general parallel between these scenes and ones enacted in Bolognese piazze, supported by similarities between festivals and the ceremonial splendor in the paintings. There is also a specific parallel to the 1490 celebrations, as in the painting, Giovanni II, Annibale II, and others appear in Fame/Fortune's entourage, aligning Bentivoglio leaders with Fortune's favors, just as occurred in the spectacle itself.

In the Bentivoglio Chapel, as in Petrarch's poem, fame and its immortality come not only to warriors (as Annibale I and Giovanni II are represented), but also to famous thinkers. Petrarch wrote that, contemplating the warriors in Fame's entourage, he could not take his eyes from them, until a voice encouraged him to look to the side, where he saw renowned philosophers. Standing before the painting, one sees on the left Antongaleazzo's professor tomb. This is, perhaps, a spatial-artistic parallel that demonstrates the range of Bentivoglio success under Fame and Fortune's (and Knowledge's) aegis. This conflation also appears with Giovanni II's figure in the Triumph of Fame (and Fortune), as he is addressed by two figures, one in robe and turban, the other armored with a sword. Nieuwenhuizen suggested that they represent Giovanni's equal interest in the active and contemplative life, or litterae and arma, qualities combined in the ideal prince.
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The Triumph of Life (Fame and Fortune)


The significance of the nine scenes in the Wheel of Fortune can be picked out quickly with little more help than provided by Wikipedia. First, a larger illustration so that some details can be seen.


The Fall of Man in the center of the Wheel is only alluded to. Depicted are Adam alone in the Garden and the creation of Eve, which precede the Fall, and also Adam laboring and Cain killing Abel, which follow it. This indirect representation of the Fall, the event whereby mankind became subject to the vicissitudes of Fortuna, represents the before and after as a kind of mini-wheel of Fortune.

Publius Ventidius Bassus rose from the position of mule driver to the command of a Roman army, defeated Pacorus near the Euphrates in 38 BC, and by virtue of his military prowess and friendship with Julius Caesar and Anthony, whom he served as legatus, ultimately rose to the consulate. That's certainly a good example of rising to the top of the wheel.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Publius_Ventidius_Bassus

Milo of Croton (Milon) was a legendary Greek athlete. Late in life (c. 500 BC) he got his hand trapped by a split/fallen tree (accounts vary) and he was eaten by wild animals. The gods, it seems, had flipped him the fickle finger of Fate -- a characteristically pointless De Casibus downfall.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milo_of_Croton

The Battle of the Caudine Forks in 321 BC was a decisive defeat for the Romans in the Samnite Wars. "According to Livy, Pontius was unwilling to take the advice of his father and insisted that the Romans surrender and pass under a yoke. This was agreed to by the two commanding consuls, as the army was facing starvation. Livy describes in detail the humiliation of the Romans...."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_..._Caudine_Forks

Alexander the Great, sick and powerless, was forced to trust his physician Philip. "In 333 BC Alexander's army passed the Cilician Gates, having spent the winter at Gordium on the Anatolian Plateau. As they descended they heard that the local Persian commander was preparing to sack the city of Tarsus. Alexander led a part of his army at breakneck speed to save the city; and, after they arrived, Alexander decided to bathe in the River Cydnus. When he entered the ice-cold water he was struck down with a severe fever, which most of his companions feared would be fatal (although Aristobulus attributed the illness just to fatigue). Most of the doctors were unable to suggest a cure, but Philip prepared a medicine and declared that, if Alexander followed his instructions, he would get better. According to the sources Parmenion sent a letter to Alexander, to warn him that Philip had been bribed by Darius to poison him; the king, however, would not believe the information, and had complete faith in his physician. He gave the letter to Philip to read, and at the same time drank the medicine that the physician had prepared for him. Philip reacted with equanimity, and merely instructed Alexander to follow his course of treatment. The king's speedy recovery fully justified his confidence in the skill, honesty and faithfulness of his physician."
http://www.ancientlibrary.com/wcd/Ph...nder_the_Great

King Croesus of Lydia reigned until his defeat by Cyrus and the Persians around 547 BC, and was as rich as... well, rich enough to be at the top of the wheel. "According to Herodotus, Croesus was placed upon a great pyre by Cyrus' orders, for Cyrus wanted to see if any of the heavenly powers would appear to save him from being burned alive. The pile was set ablaze, and as Cyrus watched he saw Croesus mutter a word, 'Solon'. He asked the interpreters to find out why he said this word with such resignation and agony. The interpreters returned the answer that Solon had warned Croesus of the fickleness of good fortune."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Croesus

The Cantabrian Wars (29BC - 19BC) were a protracted affair, involving many legions, but ultimately won by the Romans. Caesar Augustus himself took charge of the war in 26BC. According to Suetonius, The Lives of the Caesars, Augustus had "a leg and both arms severely injured by the collapse of a bridge." Marco reports that the legend on the painting indicates that Augustus proceeded in an unconsidered way, and the bridge collapsed.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cantabrian_Wars

The Murder of Philip II of Macedon in 336 BC seems an odd event to be on the upward side of Fortune's wheel, except for the fact that Alexander and/or his mother Olympias were suggested to co-conspirators. Alexander would then rise to rule the world. It appears that this event represents the good luck (or successful treachery) that led to the rise in Alexander's fortunes.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_II_of_Macedon

Julius Caesar retreating from Pompey resulted in a fortuitous second chance, which Caesar used to devastating effect. Pompey and Caesar became rivals for the leadership of Rome, resulting in Caesar's Civil War in 49 BC. "On July 10, 48 BC he met Pompey at Dyrrhachium but lost 1,000 veterans and was forced to fall back. Pompey could not believe his ragtag army had bested Caesar's seasoned legions, and believing the retreat was a trap refused to give chase, thus losing the chance to end the civil war quickly. Caesar began a long retreat southward, with Pompey in pursuit. Near Pharsalus, Caesar camped in a very strategic location. Pompey, who had a far larger army, was persuaded to attack Caesar but was routed in an exceedingly short engagement -- Pompey had lost his nerve." You might say, he lost his head... but that would be a pun on subsequent events, and that would be wrong.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caesar's_civil_war

It seems likely that the legends which accompany each scene identified the subject matter for Wegener's analysis.
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Hi Michael,

Quote:
Originally Posted by mjhurst
It seems likely that the legends which accompany each scene identified the subject matter for Wegener's analysis.
Thanks for those great images and especially, of course, the work behind deciphering them.

I hadn't noticed the legends before... here I just thought Wegener was an extremely erudite classicist and medievalist, as well as iconologist.

But at least I got the center two right!

For me this teaches something (among many other things) important about looking at medieval imagery (forget arguments about defining chronological "epochs" here for the moment) - not only looking at the image in context (the chapel and its function), but also the structure of the image. If Wegener is right - and it seems her interpretation while bold, is unassailable - then the scenes in the circle above and around the triumph of Fame are a superimposition of allegories on an allegory - the Wheel of Fortune.

You - the viewer - have to know how the Wheel of Fortune works. It turns clockwise. Up is upward good fortune, down is downward bad fortune. The center is the turner in most versions, but here it is transformed into another level of moralization - the *reason* for its existence at all. That is the fall of man. This is indicated by the creation of woman, and the slaying of Abel by Cain (the slaying is perhaps a reference to another closer event, but one even people ignorant of the local history could understand in the abstract).

But, the whole picture isn't the Wheel of Fortune, it's part of a "Triumph of Fame". Fame is below the allegory of the wheel, but she is not at the bottom, allegorically and iconologically speaking. Since she is in the *foreground*, she is the defining feature of the picture. Everything else is commentary - including the Wheel of Fortune. But, because it is above her, it shows explicitly that it is the secondary and *deeper* meaning of the primary image.

That is, simply, the intimate connection between "Fame and Fortune".

Lots of more words are possible, of course. I just wanted to thank you for the post.

Best regards,

Ross

Best regards,

Ross
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Hi, Ross,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ross G Caldwell
For me this teaches something (among many other things) important about looking at medieval imagery (forget arguments about defining chronological "epochs" here for the moment) - not only looking at the image in context (the chapel and its function), but also the structure of the image. If Wegener is right - and it seems her interpretation while bold, is unassailable - then the scenes in the circle above and around the triumph of Fame are a superimposition of allegories on an allegory - the Wheel of Fortune.
The elaboration of the Triumph of Fame with the Fall and the Wheel of Fortune has a parallel in the middle trumps. The overall trump cycle is a Triumph of Death, but the middle trumps elaborate the allegory of Death into an entire De Casibus (Triumph of Fortune) narrative arc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ross G Caldwell
But, the whole picture isn't the Wheel of Fortune, it's part of a "Triumph of Fame". Fame is below the allegory of the wheel, but she is not at the bottom, allegorically and iconologically speaking. Since she is in the *foreground*, she is the defining feature of the picture. Everything else is commentary - including the Wheel of Fortune. But, because it is above her, it shows explicitly that it is the secondary and *deeper* meaning of the primary image.
The key to that relationship is that Fame is shit. Yes, the picture is a Triumph of Fame, but in a contemptu mundi context.

This is why the parallels to Petrarch suck. The relationship between this meaningless "Triumph" of Fame and the Triumph of Death is REVERSED. In Petrarch, Death was lamented as a tragedy: he had just lost the love of his life, Laura, to the Black Death. He lamented her death and established her fame in his poetry. Fame was presented as a kind of secular immortality, a humanist triumph that was only elaborated into a Christian triumph (with the additions of Time and Eternity) at the end of Petrarch's life.

Here, however, we don't have Fame triumphing over Death; Death triumphs over Fame! This is the "churchy" aspect I referred to before. The Triumph of Fame is part of the post-lapsarian world which good Christians are taught to despise. The world of Fame (Vainglory) is also the world of Fortune. Death, conversely, is the doorway to the soul's true glorification, rather than the profane Gloria Mundi. While we have the "same" two triumphs as in Petrarch, their meaning and their sequence is diametrically opposed.

So... all that Petrarch stuff needs to be taken with a big pinch of salt.

Best regards,
Michael
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The composition of the Fame picture (1490 in Bologna) with indicating a lot of old stories somehow reminds the construction of the Boiardo trumps, which actually consists somehow out of 22 old stories and which was made - according my pre-Christmas suggestion - in 1487 for the marriage of Lucrezia d'Este with Annibale Bentivoglio.

The wedding took place in Bologna. And Costa ... as far I remind ... came from the d'Este court with Lucrezia around this time.

Lucrezia is likely part of the Bentivoglio family shown at the same place, likely the person in the middle of the lower female group.
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Hi, Ross,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ross G Caldwell
... the scenes in the circle above and around the triumph of Fame are a superimposition of allegories on an allegory - the Wheel of Fortune.
There are lots of narratives represented, historical and allegorical.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ross G Caldwell
You - the viewer - have to know how the Wheel of Fortune works. It turns clockwise. Up is upward good fortune, down is downward bad fortune. The center is the turner in most versions, but here it is transformed into another level of moralization - the *reason* for its existence at all. That is the fall of man.
Various cycles are shown with different directional flow. The Fall is shown in a vertical movement, from the two pre-Fall scenes (alone in the Garden and the creation of Eve) downward to the labor of Adam and the murder of Abel. The cycle illustrating the Wheel of Fortune is in the conventional clockwise direction.

There is also a larger cycle shown. The two images work together, as a diptych, forming a single larger composition. Note in the illustration above, where I joined the two paintings, how both the foreground figures and the background landscape seem perfectly matched, and the Triumph of Fame procession runs headlong into the Triumph of Death procession. The four main sections of the combined composition form another cycle, a summula salvlationis from the Fall through man's eschatological redemption.


Drogin talked about the spatial relationships of the paintings in the chapel as having a meaningful relationship with an obscure passage from Petrarch. However, the spatial arrangement I'm pointing out is the very composition of the two paintings. The Fall from Grace instituted the world ruled by Fortune, a world we know in terms of the famous figures and events used as exemplars in Costa's Wheel of Fortune. At the center of this 4-part cycle are the triumphs per se, Fame and Death. These are the rise and fall of Fortune's world or wheel, the first and second movements of the Fall of Princes narrative arc.

The Fall of Man is the first case study in Boccaccio's De Casibus Virorum Illustrium (The Examples of Famous Men). That book is an encyclopedic account of such Triumphs of Fortune throughout history. All of those accounts, however, are by their very nature fama, i.e., report, good or bad renown. Thus, the Wheel of Fortune throws off Triumphs of Fame as it turns. In Costa's painting this is made explicit, thereby degrading the humanist Triumph of Fame into a Christian vanity, Gloria Mundi or Vainglory. Worse yet, the procession of Fame immediately runs into the oncoming procession of Death.

In the Tarot trump cycle, the middle section begins with triumphs in love and war, the very kind of circumstance we have seen displayed by Fama in her own triumphs. The sword and Cupid (or the Golden Apple of Venus) she holds aloft could just as well be represented by the Triumphal Chariot and Love cards. The passage of Time and turn of Fortune's Wheel lead to betrayal and ultimately Death. In both the Costa Trionfi and Tarot's Trionfi we see the same Fall of Princes cycle.


Best regards,
Michael
______________________

P.S. The heart of the Costa Trionfi is the notion that triumphs of this life are transient, even for the great rulers of history and for the patron's family, while death is the passage to eternity. The moral allegory of the Floskaartjes shows the ultimate simplification of the Costa schema. The elaborate ranks of man in that deck are subject to the same two allegories, Life and Death. Because this connects to the theme of the trump cycle itself, because it is a fascinating game in its own right, and because the iconography is equally interesting with a long history, I'll expand on it a bit.


Life: The innocence, beauty, and transience
of a child's soap bubbles, as a ship sails
the fickle sea in the background.

Death: The Reaper with scythe and hourglass.

Floskaartjes
http://www.tarotforum.net/showthread.php?t=86618

Floskaartjes: Een dodendans met speelkaartjes
http://www.turnhout.be/pag_doc.asp?vid=4590

There are at least five good examples online, although three of them are slight variations of the same design.

Floskaartjes #1 (the most striking of the five)
Floskaartjes #2 (Death w/o hourglass)
Floskaartjes #3a (Death with hourglass, high quality)
Floskaartjes #3b (Death with hourglass, legend at the top)
Floskaartjes #3c (Death with hourglass, lower quality, images reversed)
(For some reason the long URLs of the last two links don't seem to work.
If you right-click on the link and copy the URL, then paste it into the address bar, they do work.)


The allegory is well displayed in an earlier Dutch Vanitas of Life and Death by Hendrick Goltzius.


Quis Evadet? (Who Escapes?)
Hendrick Goltzius (1558-1617)
Copper Engraving, 212 x 153 mm, 1594

The legend on Goltzius' engraving is revealing, particularly the opening words, flos novus. This is reminiscent of pseudo-Ausonius' 4th-century "gather, maiden, roses":

Quote:
Collige, virgo, rosas, dum flos novus et nova pubes,
et memor esto aevum sic properare tuum.
Flos novus. Floskaartjes. In his post to Aeclectic, "Spoonbender" wrote:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spoonbender
If anyone is wondering about what the name means exactly: the only explanation I have come across is that 'flos' would mean 'rough', supposedly because the floskaartjes were printed on rough, cheap paper; and 'kaartjes' means 'little cards' ('kaartje' is the diminutive of 'kaart').
This would suggest "cheap little cards" as the name of the game. It certainly seems appropriate. However, the relationship between the Vanitas genre and flower buds suggests that Floskaartjes might be intended as "little flower cards". Today, it may seem a bit perverse that a macabre subject like Floskaartjes' Dance of Death might be referred to as flowers, but youth and fragile beauty have always insinuated age and loss in the contemptu mundi outlook. In any case, although far from certain, it appears that Floskaartjes was created in the 17th Century, which would be perfectly consistent with the popularity of the Homo Bulla motif in Dutch art at that time.

Quote:
From the sixteenth century on, a small boy blowing bubbles, mostly with a death's head nearby, symbolised the brevity of life. Goltzius's engraving of this motif is inscribed with the words quis evadet? -- who evades [death]? The print also bears a caption in Latin that likens the transience of human existence, even a child's, to the fleeting life of smoke or bubble. The purely allegorical homo bulla (man as a bubble) of the sixteenth century was later transformed in Dutch genre painting into an ordinary boy blowing bubbles.
Here is another example.


Homo Bulla
c.1617
The metaphor was apparently popularized by Erasmus.

Quote:
...the fragile soap bubbles exist only for a blink of an eye. In this sense, soap bubbles are associated with the transience of life. In the sixteenth century, the Dutch philosopher Erasmus reintroduced the Latin expression Homo bulla (man is a bubble) in his Adagia, a collection of sayings published in 1572. A Dutch Vanitas etching, published 150 years earlier[?], shows a young boy sitting on a skull and blowing bubbles. “Homo” is written over one of them: a skull as the symbol of death and bubbles representing the transience of man’s life on Earth.
Finally, in one example a young girl takes the place of the infant boy, and is given the attributes of Fortune.


Although popularized in post-Erasmus Dutch Vanitas works, the metaphor dates back to the ancients. Varro (116 BC – 27 BC) wrote the following as the first line of the first book of De Re Rustica.

Quote:
quod, ut dicitur, si est homo bulla, eo magis senex
for if, as they say, man is a bubble, all the more so is an old man
So the symbolism of the bubble, (like the universal symbolism of the skull or skeleton), was proverbial even in the 1st century BC.
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Hi Michael,

Very cool graphics. Thanks. I agree with your view of the narrative flow, and don't disagree with much else, but I have some disagreements of course.

I don't see any "Judgment" in the Triumph of Death. If read literally, every soul goes to heaven, pretty directly.

Quote:
Thus, the Wheel of Fortune throws off Triumphs of Fame as it turns. In Costa's painting this is made explicit, thereby degrading the humanist Triumph of Fame into a Christian vanity, Gloria Mundi or Vainglory.
Can you cite a "humanist Triumph of Fame" that didn't somehow acknowledge the "vainglory" aspect? That's the point, at least, of both Petrarch's and Boccaccio's versions of Fame, and I doubt that anybody from the period can be cited who would say something like "I will be more famous than God!"

I'm not sure you're reading it right here. Caesar is dead, but he's still famous. How can anyone deny that? Nobody denies death, but it is a fact, inescapable, that fame transcends death. Your reading can't undo that, so it must be reading too much into the intentions of the left-right juxtaposition of the images.

Quote:
In the Tarot trump cycle, the middle section begins with triumphs in love and war, the very kind of circumstance we have seen displayed by Fama in her own triumphs. The sword and Cupid (or the Golden Apple of Venus) she holds aloft could just as well be represented by the Triumphal Chariot and Love cards. The passage of Time and turn of Fortune's Wheel lead to betrayal and ultimately Death. In both the Costa Trionfi and Tarot's Trionfi we see the same Fall of Princes cycle.
The trump series desinger may have had a different take on things. Fall of Princes shows how Fortune is fickle, and death is inevitable anyway. But there may be a difference between vainglory and honest fame through virtue (not chance) that the trumps are trying to tell.

Best regards,

Ross
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Hi, Ross,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ross G Caldwell
I don't see any "Judgment" in the Triumph of Death. If read literally, every soul goes to heaven, pretty directly.
So we should read it literally and presume that they were promoting heresy in their chapel? Or should we accept, as we do with most works, that it is not a 20,000 word treatise by a Scholastic theologian but a work of art, and that some things are taken for granted?

It appears that a very simple graphic design was desired here; at least, that was the result so it makes sense that it was intended. Yes, there are other things that could have been included, as always, including a hellmouth or whatever it is that would satisfy you. Yes, if you were creating a similar work then you would no doubt do it differently.

If you want to pursue such a line of inquiry, insisting on heresy rather than artistic sensibility, that's fine. Is this heresy related to the fact that, in the other painting, the family has their backs turned toward Mary and Jesus? Gosh, this could get fun in a hurry! However, even if we accept that the Chapel was intended to convey assorted heresies, the top part of the Triumph of Death is still a portrayal of Christian end times and, in this context, (i.e., sorting out the overall cycle), the heresy is largely irrelevant to seeing the big picture.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ross G Caldwell
Can you cite a "humanist Triumph of Fame" that didn't somehow acknowledge the "vainglory" aspect? That's the point, at least, of both Petrarch's and Boccaccio's versions of Fame, and I doubt that anybody from the period can be cited who would say something like "I will be more famous than God!"
Well, I don't know what that quote is supposed to mean. Except for John Lennon's "bigger than Jesus" statement, that's an uncommon sentiment even in the modern world.

Certainly Boccaccio's Visione is rather like Petrarch's finished product, in that glory is ultimately triumphed over by Fortune and Death, themselves triumphed by higher personifications. But Petrarch himself wrote the Triumphs of Death and Fame as the end of his work, apparently considering the four triumphs to constitute a complete and unified work. It was only two decades later, as his own mortality became a reality to him, that he changed the design of his poems to a humbler overriding arc by adding Time and Eternity.

Given that most of the Triumph of Fame examples we've seen are portrayed in a Petrarchian context, naturally the cyclic implication is the Christian one of the full six triumphs, always implied even if not expressed. But you seem to be suggesting that humanism did not exist, that pride in the magnificence of man and his achievements was no different than medieval Christian contemptu mundi. Since I'm pretty sure that's not what you mean, I don't know what you do mean.

However, you asked for an example... what is there about Lorenzo's birth tray that conveys a disdain for Gloria Mundi? Or is it a celebration of Fame?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ross G Caldwell
I'm not sure you're reading it right here. Caesar is dead, but he's still famous. How can anyone deny that? Nobody denies death, but it is a fact, inescapable, that fame transcends death.
We are talking about two different subjects, using the same words. Yes, Fame triumphs over Death, and yes, Death triumphs over Fame. Death means much the same thing in both formulations, but Fame differs dramatically. Artists expressed both formulations in different works.

Fame as something that people seek, one of the favors of Fortune like wealth and power and a trophy wife, does endure... in a sense. So does the wealth, although someone else has it; the power transfers to others, perhaps dispersing widely or being accumulated by a single person, but it does not vanish; even the trophy wife may live on, perhaps as a wealthy widow finding herself a trophy husband. These things are all sought after, and all may endure after death... in a sense.

Fame lives on, as in the passage from Machiavelli I quoted: "Death is bitter but fame is forever, and the memory of this deed will endure". That's one sense of "Fame". Again I would recommend the article Humanist History as Moral Philosophy and the Secular Immortality of Fame.

Quote:
In later Renaissance tomb portraits, especially at the highest social levels where humanist fame was most securely entrenched, we see a remarkable change in the late medieval imagery of death after 1500. Instead of a triumphant death humbling pious donors praying for salvation to Christ, we begin to see tomb monuments extolling the heroic worldly deeds and virtues of the deceased and their secular triumph over death through eternal fame. One example was the relief depicting Terrestrial Fame from Andrea Riccio's Tomb of Giralomo and Mercantonio della Torre executed in the late teens. Here the sculptor carved an allegory of the triumph of human mind over death. Pegasus, the winged horse, appears as a traditional classical image of intellectual glory and eternal fame, along with a vase inscribed "Virtue," causing a nearby Death to drop his scythe in defeat.
On the other hand, Fame means diddly squat. Fame endures, but Caesar isn't around to enjoy it. Fame, like the other gifts of Fortune, may live on but the person does not; you can't take it with you. Fame as something of enduring value to a particular person dies with the person. It is of no use to Caesar that we still speak of him. He is dead, and only God can judge him now. This is the Christian perspective, a larger view that presupposes an afterlife.

Both meanings are sensible. Fame triumphs Death, and Death triumphs Fame. The question is, which is being depicted in a particular work of art. Of course, if we confuse them, using the term "Fame" ambiguously, we can generate a paradox. (More precisely, it is a fallacy of ambiguity/equivocation.) This is good too, and an artist can use that as well. But overall, I think that Renaissance humanism is a real sensibility, and the idea of worldly renown within that sensibility was quite different than it was in the more common (even during the Renaissance) contemptu mundi sensibility.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ross G Caldwell
Your reading can't undo that, so it must be reading too much into the intentions of the left-right juxtaposition of the images.
So, does the Fall come before the Last Judgment? I don't think that the order is in question just because you choose to question it. Seriously. The pairing of Fame and Fortune with the Fall, along with the contrasting paring of Death with the Resurrection, is pretty clear, even if it were not for the schematic arrangement of the paintings. However, that spatial arrangement loudly confirms the intention.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ross G Caldwell
The trump series designer may have had a different take on things. Fall of Princes shows how Fortune is fickle, and death is inevitable anyway. But there may be a difference between vainglory and honest fame through virtue (not chance) that the trumps are trying to tell.
Is the sequence meaningful? If it is not, then we can make up a great many tales, freed from cyclic constraints. If the trump hierarchy is meaningful, then the successes in virtue, love, and war are intended to be read in a contemptu mundi sense, triumphed over by Time and Fortune, betrayal and Death.

Best regards,
Michael
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I hate to interrupt this discussion with a post that is probably off topic... but I've been considering the TdM World card.

I wonder if the "TdM I" card is related to Fame (caped figure), while the "TdM II" (scarfed figure) is related to Fortune?

I now return you to your regularly scheduled thread.
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Hi Robert,

Quote:
Originally Posted by le pendu
I hate to interrupt this discussion with a post that is probably off topic... but I've been considering the TdM World card.

I wonder if the "TdM I" card is related to Fame (caped figure), while the "TdM II" (scarfed figure) is related to Fortune?
I've considered those things, or something like them, before too. But right now I don't think so. We could talk about it.

You are right though, this question is a little off-topic here. If you want to stay in Historical Research and not go to the TdM section, why not post it in the generic "Fame" thread?
http://tarotforum.net/showthread.php?t=88143

Ross
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