[From Giuliana Algeri, Un gioco per le corti: i tarocchi miniati, in Berti, Giordano and Andrea Vitali:
Le carte di corte. I tarocchi. Gioco e magia alla corte degli Estensi,
Nuova Alfa Editoriale, Bologna,
[In brief comments in the body of the text and their accompanying notes, Algeri
summarizes her arguments for a c. 1440 dating for the Brambilla pips and 1468 date for the Visconti
[After speaking of the “Tarocchi di Carlo VI” and Catania, which are] Chronologically preceded only by the Brambilla cards (today part of the Pinacoteca di Brera collection) which we know was realized for Filippo Maria Visconti at a date anterior to 1447,(11) the Tarocchi of Francesco Sforza constitute the central ring in the Milanese figurative tradition. The composite scheme fixed in the Sforza-style deck become in fact a rather unchangeable model upon which depend – with the unique exception of the Visconti cards executed for the occasion of the wedding of Galeazzo Maria Sforza with Bona di Savoia (12) – all the successive series of which we have knowledge...
(11) That the cards pertain to Filippo Maria Visconti is attested, other than by the Visconti heraldic symbols, by the fact that the Denari reproduce with exactitude the recto and verso of the gold coins struck by the Duke; the date of 1447, the year of the death of Filippo Maria, constitutes the terminus ante quem, but the precise compositional affinity of the cards with the Zavattari frescoes in the chapel of Teodolinda in Monza renders a probable date of around 1440 (cf. Algeri, 1981, pp. 80-82).
(12) The reference to the wedding celebrated in 1468 between the first-born son of Francesco Sforza and Bianca Maria Visconti is contained in the card Love, in which appears a pavilion decorated with the arms, alternating, of Visconti-Sforza and of Savoy. The certainty that it refers not, as was held for a long time, to the wedding of Filippo Maria Visconti and Maria di Savoia, is given by the heraldic symbols which decorate the clothing of the figures in the four suits and those of the husband in the Love card.
In fact only two of the suits carry symbols coming from the Visconti heraldic repertoire
(the ducal crown with the laurel and the palm in the Cups, and the dove in the Denari),
while the other two (Spade and Bastoni) are ornamented with symbols exclusively Sforza-style
symbols (the quince and the fountain). Likewise the husband wears on his hat the Visconti
motto “a bon droyt” but has his clothing decorated with the Sforza symbol of the fountain. Such a
combination of heraldic emblems can only refer to Galeazzo Maria, descended from Sforza on his
father’s side and from Visconti on the side of his mother (cf. Algeri, 1981, pp. 72-74; Algeri,
1986, pp. 54-55).
Composed by Ross Gregory Caldwell