The Rothschild CardsThe Rothschild cards consist of 8 cards in the Edmond Rothschild collection at the Louvre and one additional 9th card from Museo, Biblioteca e Archivio di Bassano del Grappa, which is considered to belong to the same original deck (Kaplan I, p. 120-122). 7 or 8 of the cards are court cards, 1 or 2 are trumps (an emperor and an unclear motif, which by Dummett is identified as Jack of Coins and by Kaplan as Pope, Hermit or World).
The other cards are
King, Queen, Knight and Pages of Staves, Queen of Swords, King of Coins and the single of Bassano is the Knight of Swords. The cards measure 189x90 mm. According to Kaplan
the border of the cards seems to be printed by woodcut, and the rest is handpainted, Ortalli speaks of fine woodcut printing.
Dummett sees some further 23 cards (numerals) involved.
|According to private informations from Raimondo Luberti there is a theory from Luciano Bellosi,
that the Rothschild cards are manufactured by the Florentine painter Giovanni dal Ponte, who died 1437/1438.
If this theory turns out to be true the Rothschild cards might be older than the oldest Visconti Sforza decks. Part of the argument seems
to be a similarity between the Giorgio kills the dragon scene to the right and the Bassano
Knight (shown in the Dummett-article). The scene with Giorgio
is part of a triptychone, the composition is named Vergine e Bambino in trono, done probably 1434.
Giovanni dal Ponte [Giovanni di Marco] was born in Florence at 1385 and died in Florence,
1437–8). It's said, that he had been a student of Spinello Aretino. He took the
name dal Ponte due to the location of his studio at Santo Stefano a
Ponte in Florence. He joined the Arte dei Medici e degli Speziali in
1410 and the Compagnia di S Luca in 1413.
In the mid 1420s he had debts and even was prisoned in the matter. In the end of the 20ies
1420s he opened his own studio and
formed a partnership with the painter Smeraldo di Giovanni (c. 1365–
after 1442). His work included fresco cycles, panels and
the decoration of small objects. A number of allegorical panel
paintings and cassoni are attributed to him, under them the
Seven Liberal Arts (1435; Madrid, Prado) in
a garden with naturalistic flowers and plants.
When we get better informations, we will improve the article. Raimondo Luberti gives as his source:
Luciano Bellosi. Come un prato fiorito. studi
sull'arte tardogotica. Jaca Book. Milano 2000 p.200-201 et ill.
266-272, as main source about Giovanni di Marco F. Guidi: Per una
nuova cronologia di Giovanni di Marco in "Paragone" n.223, 1968 pp. 27-46
et n.239, 1970 pp.11-23.
An earlier dating of the Rothschild cards wouldn't take an effect on our special theories about the year 1441 and the 5x14-deck. The only sure trump card
in the deck is the Emperor and the Rothschild cards might be the fragment of an Imperatori-deck at least as well as it
might be the fragment of a Trionfi deck. Imperatori decks are first mentioned in 1423 as "from Florence" and Giovanni dal ponte is a painter from Florence.
As Giovanni is mentioned as used in the decoration of "small objects" (playing cards are small objects), as "having debts" (it probably were not the best
paid artists, which made playing cards, although there are exceptions) and as used to "allegoric objects" (7 artes liberales), it seems, that he might well have been
a painter of playing cards.