Giovanni dal Ponte - alias Giovanni di Marco
composed by Lothar Teikemeier, last update 06.12.2012

Giovanni dal Ponte is occasionally suspected to have made the so-called Rothschild cards.


Source is from an older article to the theme of Imperatori cards

SOURCE 1: Giovanni dal Ponte (Rothschild Cards)

Quote from an earlier article to the theme "Imperatori, Karnöffel and others" (2003-07): The Rothschild Cards. Naturally these older texts present not in all points my opinion of nowadays.
The new text here might contain some corrections against the earlier versions.

The Rothschild Cards

The 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.

Repeated Note:

When Ross Caldwell and me in 2003 started to collect Trionfi notes between 1442-1463, we had about 27/28 entries (which I nowadays would count as 31). The major part were the documents of Ferrara, which were collected by Gherardo Ortalli and Adriano Franceschini in the "Prince and the Playing Cards" (1996), after the base laying works of Michael Dummett and Stuart Kaplan around 1980. This collection included 2 notes about Trionfi cards in Florence, found by Franco Pratesi in his earlier work (allowances of the Trionfi game in 1450 and 1463). A graphical representation of this time (with 27 entries) shows the dominance of Ferrarese documents (in black) with a few notes only from other locations (in red; see picture to the right)

In the period 2004 till October 2011 it was possible to add 4 further notes (Siena 1452, Padova 1455, Ancona c. 1460 and Valerio Marcello c. 1460), mainly thanks to information given by Thierry Depaulis.

Franco Pratesi started his new article series in November 2011. Since then the list has gotten 67 new documents till September 2012 (65 of them found by Franco Pratesi, one, now the oldest of September 1440, by Thierry Depaulis, and another one by Veber Gulinelli, who controlled the earlier work of Franceschini and found an overlooked document) and nearly all are related to Florence or its surrounding.

A small book (118 pages) was published around Christmas 2012, Franco Pratesi: "Playing Card Trade in 15th Century Florence" as IPCS Paper No. 7 (ISSN 0305-2133). It contains some of the articles, which before had appeared at this website, those, which treat the early time of 15th century. Thierry Depaulis commented in his foreword: "This book is a landmark in the history of early playing cards in Italy".

Well, maybe not the book, but the research is clearly a landmark in various interests. For the collection of early Trionfi notes it somehow means, that we have within the year 2012 about 200 % more data for the period 1440-1462 than mankind had collected in the 200 years before.

Added later:

In August 2013 the new report of Arnold und Doris Esch: "Aus der Frühgeschichte der Spielkarte. Der Import von carte da giocare und trionfi nach Rom." in Gutenberg Jahrbuch 2013, 88. Jahrgang, p. 41-53, arrived in our redaction. It contains 106 new references to Trionfi decks, which all were found in the customs registers of the city Rome for the period 1453-1465. With this the number of all earlier Trionfi cards records has been doubled and should have reached then c. 210 (from which a few are only considered to be "Trionfi card notes" and don't contain the word "Trionfi" or something similar).


I'd started to sort the new Trionfi card documents overview in October 2012. Articles will be possibly changed according improvements in research.

Old Overview about Trionfi Card documents in 2003

Overview about Trionfi Card documents in 2013


Persons in Trionfi Card Documents 1440-1462
* START * TAROT HISTORY * TAROT MUSEUM * ABOUT US * Oldest Tarot * Imperatori * Ferrara 1441 * Trionfi Documents * 5x14 * From 14 to 22 * Boiardo * Mantegna Tarocchi * Iconography * Time Table * Researchers * Locations * News * Play * Playing Cards documents * FAQ * Name Trionfi * Reviews * Free Reading * Links * Franco Pratesi (1) * Franco Pratesi (2) * Persons 1440-1462 *

Trionfi Card Persons 1440-1462

Commissioners (Trionfi cards)
Ferrara: Artists and Card Producers (Trionfi cards)

Ferrara: Traders

Florence: Artists and Card Producers (Trionfi cards and mostly also playing cards)

Florence: Artists and Card Producers (normal Playing Cards)

Florence: Trade with Trionfi and Playing Cards

Users of Playing Cards

Special events