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Leber (Rouen) Tarocchi and six Cards of the Cicognara Deck

Earlier Notes to Leber Tarocchi and Cicognara deck

The Leber Tarocchi and the Cicognara deck have a similar theme as the Boiardo deck.

Arthur M. Hind (1938) in his Early Italian Engraving describes the following about Cicognara's book from 1831 (shortened quote):

Pack of Tarocchi cards

L. Cigognara, Memorie spettanti alla Storia della Calcografia, Prato 1831, p. 163 and pls. XI and XIV. P. V. pp. 132-133 Pl.698

This pack of Tarocchi cards was described by Leopoldo Cicognara, when in his collection, as engraved on copper and tinted with water colour, and as in the style of the early Tuscan engravers. I have been unable to locate the originals, but the six engraved copies on pl. XIV of Cicognara's volume, which are here reproduced, support Passavant's view that they are in the manner of Nicoletto da Modena. Cicognara also reproduces on his pl. XI the engraved design of Two Putti embracing, in a decorative srol pattern, which was used on the back of all the seventy eight cards. He desribes this engraving for the back of the cards as in nero a chiaroscuro. .... The full Tarocchi pack of 78 cards contained 14 cards in each suit ... [Denari, Bastoni, Coppe, Spade and 22 Atutti] ... [it follows the description of Cicognara:]

  • Denari: ... 1-10 contain medallions with Roman busts of Imperial times, beginning with Julius Caesar as the Ace and ending with Quintus Sertorius (10). Fante: Medal with a figure of Victory, inscribed Marcus Crassus Consul. Cavallo: reminiscent of the Roman equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius. Dama: inscribed Cleopatra Regina Alex. Aegypti. Re: inscribed Myda Rex Lydorum
  • Bastoni: ... 1-10 show trees with birds in the branches, and animals at the foot. The ace is an oak with crossed branches, as in the della Rovere arms [Note by Hind: the two Della Rovere Popes of the period were Sixtus IV (1471 - 84) and Julius II. (1503 - 13)]. The production of the casts might come within the latter period.) The court cards are inscribed Castore e Pollux, Ippolita, Nino.
  • Coppe ... 1-10 show cups (vases, etc.) the ace contains a large vase on which 2 little satyrs are seated, with a cartouche above lettered SPQR. The court cards are inscribed Marcantonio, e Apicio, Semiramide, Sardanapollo.
  • Spade ... 1-10 show swords of various kinds. The ace shows a sword in sheath with a handle of a leopard's head. The Court cards are inscribed M. Sicio Dentate ob virtutem Achilles Ro., Tamiri, Aless?.
  • The 22 Atutti end with the Mato, a drunken fool lying on the ground with hands in the air, supporting a large jug inscribed Muscatello.

Detlev Hoffmann (1973) sorts the same 6 cards to the Rouen or Leber Tarocchi. In his notes to the Leber Tarocchi (translated and shortened):

"North Italy, beginning 16th century, Woodcut with Gouachepainting, coloured on thick carton from various layers, Italian production, 13.4 x 7.0 cm. Back: Diana with Arrow and Bow, Dragon with chariot .... Cicognara had possessed a complete version of this deck."

Hoffmann is correct, that there are indications that both seem to be similar decks, but at least the back should be different (see Hind's description) and Hind speaks of Cicognara's copperplate engraving and Hoffmann of woodcuts in Rouen. Michael Dummett in game of Tarot, footnotes 56/57 in Chapter 4, remarks on this:

  • 56 The pack is part of the Leber Collection, catalogue number 1351 -XIV. Four cards are illustrated in colour in D. Hoffmann, op. cit., plate 23(b), and nine by Kaplan, op. cit., p. 133. Thirty cards survive, including the Fool and seven triumph cards. The latter are to be identified with the usual subjects as follows: Imperator Assiriorum, unnumbered (the numeral is presumably covered up by the turned-over edge) - the Emperor; Pontifex Pontificum, 5 -the Pope; Victoriae Premium. 7 - the Chariot; Omnium Dominatrix, 10 - the Wheel of Fortune;. Rerum Edax (Saturn), 11 - the Hermit (or Time); Perditorum Raptor (Pluto), 14-the Devil; Inclitum Sydus, 16-the Star.
  • 57 See L. Cicognara, op. cit., pp. 163-6 and plate XIV; the cards are also shown in D. Hoffmann, op. cit., fig. 6. The cards illustrated by Cicognara are the Aces of the four suits, Cupid = Love, and Apollo = the Sun. Contrary to what is said by D. Hoffmann, op. cit., p. 68, the pack described by Cicognara was not the same as that at Rouen, though very similar. The Rouen set includes the Aces of Batons, Coins and Swords, and these differ considerably in design from those shown by Cicognara. Also, Cicognara describes the Fool of his pack in detail, and it is quite different from that at Rouen: Cicognara's Fool was a drunkard lying on his back, supporting, with his legs in the air, a jar marked 'Muscatello'; that at Rouen shows a man armed to the teeth, and dressed in armour, but with genitals exposed and urinating, and bears the inscription 'Velim fundam dari mihi'. The Cicognara pack is ascribed by A.M. Hind, op. cit., vol. V, London, 1948, pp. 139-40, to Nicoletto da Modena.

We saw the necessity to go back to the Cicognara text. Andrea Vitali was so friendly to provide us with the relevant pages and P. Marco translated:

p. 163
Much beauty and interest is offered by a Tarot deck that we have the luck of owning. It is complete, with 78 cards, of which 56 in the suits of coins, cups, swords,

p. 164
wands, from one to ten with four court cards each. The 22 Tarocchi (trumps) are of the same form as described by Court de Gebelin, which has survived in all Italy.
The back of each card displays a black and white image of the best taste, in the middle there are two “putti” embracing each other, one upside-down with respect to the other; in this way the back of the cards always looks the same independently from how they are kept by the player holding them (1).
These cards are of beautiful design, engraved on copper, as you can see, but they have been colored with water colors in various and beautiful colors. There is no inscription about the place and time and the author of the engravings.
All the coins are imperial coins from the age of Augustus, down to the last emperors, starting from the ace with the medal of Julius Caesar with the inscription “Divi Iulii Caesar. Augusti” (to the Divine Emperor Julius Caesar) and ending with the medal in the ten with Q. Sertorius.
The King of Coins sits in his throne in oriental dressing, on the bottom of the card it is written “Mydas Rex Lydorum”. The Queen, with naked arms and breast, bears the writing “Cleopatra Regina Alex. Aegypti” , she holds a medal of Lucretia from Rome, on the top there is another medal “Virgo Tarpea”. The horse is similar to the statue of Marcus Aurelius with a pedestal different from what you see in the Capitol (in Rome); there is a suspended shield with a crowned eagle with two heads and in the pedestal there are more coat of arms. The Page bears a medal with a Victory, the title at the bottom reads “Marcu Crassus

p. 165
Comsul” (sic).
The wands are represented by little trees planted in the ground with little animals at their roots and birds between the leaves. The Ace is an oak tree with a shield with no emblem, at its root swines eating acorns. On the two there is the fable of the fox and grapes which it cannot reach. In the court cards, Nino, Ippolita, Castor and Pollux.
The cups present a number of vases, cups, urns of different kinds. The ace is a large vase, on which two little satyrs sit, on the top a target with SPQR. The figures are Sardanapallo, Semiramide, Marcantonio and Apicio. In the swords you see a variety of handles and sheaths of different kinds of swords and different shields of ancient style. ... The names of the figures are Alessandro, Tamiri, “M. Sicio Dentato ob virtutem Achilles Ro.” who as on his shield an eagle in white field and three horizontal red bars and three black.
The Tarocchi (trumps) contain only a few particular features, but they are beautiful in their design. And as the last card, the Fool, drunkness has been appropriately represented, as the vice that is most enemy of reason.
We show a few of these cards to give an idea of their beauty. Their style is similar to the earlier engraver from Tuscany: the cuts are horizontal, without crossing, close to each other, and very similar to the works of the first age of this art. There are no other inscriptions but those already mentioned,
p. 166
except the drunk man, that is a fallen young man, with his legs in the air, holding a vase from which wine is pouring: on the vase “Muscatello” is written.

From this text (see above at begin of the text: "The 22 Tarocchi (trumps) are of the same form as described by Court de Gebelin, which has survived in all Italy."; this surely couldn't have been said in regard of the Leber Tarocchi) it seems, that the trumps of the curious Leber Tarocchi and the Cicognara deck had been more or less totally different. Nonetheless, all small arcane are rather similar.
A further open question appeared to us in the meantime: Cicognara has copied the originals to his book at 1831 ... so somebody should have reengraved them. A judgment as from Hind, that this presents the style of a specific engraver in early 16th century, seems in the regard of this evaluation worthless: How should Hind know, if the copy was a good realistic reproduction of the original? Perhaps the new engraver simply made a "nice" copy, more nice than the original. P. Marco suggested in this question, that the 2 known trumps Amor=Love and Apollo=Sun have some stronger similarity to Love and Sun of the Mitelli-deck. The well known Mitelli is much later than "early 16th century", also he was a very original interpreter of the Tarocchi, as far we know it from him, who not easily "copied" ideas from somebody else. (see in our Museum: Mitelli)

(Huck Meyer)

More pictures
of the both decks in the
Tarot Museum