Visconti Sforza Pierpont Morgan deck - Moon, Temperance & Star


For those who have the Visconti Sforza Pierpont Morgan deck


I was looking through my deck of Visconti Sforza Pierpoint Morgan cards yesterday afternoon and I've noticed something. And well, I probably should research more about these but it struck me to see a few things...

the major arcana cards of Moon, Temperance and Star..

I want to point out that there may be a relationship between three. These relationships can be drawn into first, second and third order.

the order of the three goes from

Moon, then Temperance then Star.


Ok, now let's get to the facts.

all 3 share the similarity of the female person on the cards.

each of the three females wears a blue and red clothing... except for the Star, which wears a robe that has green inline inside.

The moon holds her left hand upward, and the right hand downard. The Temperance holds her hand the same way.

The hair on the moon seems fresh, young and vibrant, then the Temperance card has her hair much more golden and alive, and the Star card has her hair receding and going bald...

Also, the moon has no socks, no shoes...


The temperance card wears socks...


the Star card wears BOTH socks and shoes..

also, the breast of the moon is young and somewhat flat, the temperance card shoes it a little bit more mature, and the star card shows her breast fit altogether grown.

also... the girdle of the moon card is quite long, and the temperance card has hers shortening... and the star card has none...

I'm not drawing any conclusion as to these three cards have a systematic order in which some MIGHT say the infamous "maiden, mother and crone" idea, but it struck me the way there IS a maturity process going on between the three cards.

tell me what you think. I don't look to argue, but suggest it in.


Andy's Playing cards probably has one of the best descriptions of the Visconti tarots---but I haven't been through all the links, so I don't know if this applies to your discussion interests:

I'll be around later tomorrow to check the messages, but Joan Cole's mini-reviews also show all the Visconti links available that discuss many of the Cary Yale and Pierpont Morgan cards.

I'm going to post the same above link to someone asking about Visconti figures in a related thread.

Best wishes and happy reading.

Mari H.


Oh.. I've viewed that before and bookmarked that before. He doesn't include what I'm sayin about the 3 females..


Wonderful Lloyd!

For me, it is these very precise observations which allows the deck's specific iconography to come alive. I strongly suspect that you may have carefully observed the relationship which the painter of those cards, if not other people, saw as a relationship which was in some way meaningful.

I think I mentioned in another thread that the positions of the arms of Temperance and the Magician on most Marseilles decks also shows a clear relation. In what you are presenting, this relation extends the more 'obvious' relationship between XIIII and XVII with also XVIII, through this link of ageing of the respective women depicted. I like it!

And so, thank you!


most welcome. :D


A side note from Mari:
I think the commentary by Lloyd would be interesting addition to Tom Tadforlittle's summary of various major archana cards in tarot designs. Lloyd's probably seen this. I looked in Tom's site specifically for write-ups on the Temperance, the Moon or Star. The Moon card in his information notes that this is one of the 'replacement' cards, might be from Fererra---I don't know the specifics, but will look where I can in the Encyclopedia of the Tarot. The brief commentary on the Moon can be found in the following area:

And if I ever find close Fererra designs in minatures or palace murals for the three images, then I'll post later. Maybe wishful thinking on my part- with three marriages noted in a timeline between D'Estes and Viscontis in my Poets and Dukes of Fererra book, I may be dreaming more art examples exist that are not catalogued as tarocchi sources.
Thanks, Lloyd.
Mari H.


Replacement Cards

Mari, and Tom Little are right, but the observation about the Moon as a product of a second-string artist applies to all three of these cards.

All of them are part of the group of five executed by an artist other than, and later than the one who did the bulk of the deck (the other two are Strength and the World). These five stand out particularly because the artist's handling of the gold background is completely different from that of the main artist. Also, all of the replacements except Strength have foregrounds that terminate with cliff faces.

Commenting on the work of this later artist, Michael Dummett says, "The new cards may have been painted because the originals were lost, or, possibly, because the first artist never completed his work. In any case, not only is the style utterly different, but the later artist was either at no great pains to imitate the original cards, or had not seen them and had been given no detailed description of them." ("The Visconti-Sforza Tarot Cards," p. 118.)

The second artist was a professional and did a credible job, but the quality of these five pictures is not really up to the standard set by the original artist, some of whose little paintings (especially the Old Man, the Wheel of Fortune, the Papesse, and the Bagatto) are genuine masterpieces. I looked at the details Lloyd mentioned, but except for the variation in footwear (or lack of it) I didn't see anything except unexplainable variations and similarities. The three are wearing similar, but not identical clothing; all three share that shaved-back-forehead look that was apparently a Renaissance style, and I didn't notice any appreciable differences in their bustlines. What does unite them as a sort of ersatz trio is that the artist used the same model for all three pictures.

I have no idea what is signified by what they have or don't have on their feet.

PS: Mari: What is this Poets and Dukes of Ferrara book that you mentioned?


I'll start a new thread later with a few Ferrerra & Tarot literature titles.

Here's an Amazon listing:
Poets and Dukes of Fererra:

The reason for the new thread includes an interpretation of triumph poem in this book's appendices and just a few mentions of Este court poetry and card images---Calvino's Crossed Destinies seems to draw on the close relation between Bordering on Love and Visconti images for example.


Mari H.

Mari H.