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Sola Busca note - William Hughes Wilshire, April 12, 1876

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Sola Busca- From William Hughes Wilshire, April 12, 1876 to Brera purchase 2010


A Descriptive Catalogue of Playing and other Cards in the British Museum

William Hughes Wilshire
April 12, 1876
Elibron Classics (reprint)

Tarots
P.77-78

I. 3. (Prints of the Early Italian Schoo, Vol. ii.)

Last Quarter of Fifteenth Century, Venice.

"Although Cicognara saw at Naples and Milan two complete series of these cards, he gives but an incomplete account of their number, contours, figures and design. We would observe only that if the figure of Pillio be maked with the number 1, i may show that the pieces before us formed part of a Giuoco del Fante di Spade, in which, according to Venetian custom, this ards is the highest of all the pieces.

"As far as we can judge from the thirty-two cards known to us, there should be twenty numbered figures, while the other cards (king, queen, knight and knaves) ore the marks of the suits of spade, coppe, denari and bastoni." (Pass, vol. v. pp. 127-129).

[5 1/8 x 2 7/8 in.]

Will return later to type in whole excerpt, correct.

According to the excerpt only 4 of the cards were at the British Museum and 31 are described.

This was as of 1876. Subsequent contributions to the museum may have included further examples. Marchioness Busca (born Duchess Serbelloni) at Milan had samples in her cabinet.

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Segment 1


Four cards of the numeral series of a tarots sequence, of which as yet but thirty-one pieces have been described.

One card is the Cavallo di Denari. It is represented by a thick-set man with a buckler on his left arm, and mounted on horseback. He gallops toward the left. Part of the horse's mouth, chest and nearly the whole of the forelegs are cut across by the boundary line of the engraving. Below the foot of the horseman, and at the left is the mark of the suit-Denari. At the upper right-hand corner is the title, Sarafino.

A second card is the Fante di Denari. A young man stands erect, inclined backwards toward the left of the piece, directing his actions towards the right. Though his back touches the left-hand marginal border of the engraving, his right foot advances as far as to be within three-eighths of an inch of the right border. He holds a bird in his left hand, and points to the ground with index finger of the right hand. On a large perch, projecting from he right of the engraving, is a hawk, the cord affixed by which is wound loosely round the youth. Below and between the right-hand border of the piece and the valet's left leg is the mark of the suit-Denari. Not any title is present.

A third card is the Cavallo di Spade. It shows a young man on horseback, advancing toward the left, the right foreleg of the horse being cut across by the left marginal line of the engraving. The man holds with both hands a long drawn sword, as if about to strike some one on the ground. From his left side hangs the long sheath of the weapon. At the upper left-hand corner is the title Amone.

The fourth piece is the Dame di Bastoni. A coronated female is seated at the left hand in a throne-like chair. She raises her left hand, and is directed and looks toward the right. In her right hand she holds a baton-like sceptre, which she likewise supports by her right shoulder. At the upper right-hand corner is the title Palas.

Of these designs, the Fante di Danari is by far the best, and has some resemblance to the style of the Chavalier and Zintilomo in the previously described sequence I. I. The techni(que) of these pieces has a strong affinity with that of many of the prints ascribed to Baldini there, is however, a grotesqueness of design and want of proportion about some figures, and especially the horses, which do not say much for the artistic powers of their author.

These four engravings are very interesting in some respects. They appear to form a portion of the set mentioned by Zani at p. 72 of his "Materiali" by Ciognara, p. 162, and by Passavant, vol. v. p. 127.

The latter writer gives the following account of it under the title, "Venetian Tarot Cards of the year 1070 (note, this is later dated to 1491), after the foundation of Venice" -
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Segment II (continued)


"The Count Cignara in his memoirs on 'Nielli and Playing Cards,' alludes to a set of Venetian cards which Zani had met with at Naples dispersed in two collections, but of which a complete series (coloured), was preserved in he cabinet of the Marchioness Busca (born Duchess Serbelloni) at Milan, and some separate pieces in that of the Marquis Durazzo, at Genoa. Cigognara gives in his work, plates xii, and iii, copies of seven of these cards, offering a fair idea o the manner in which they were engraved. He states afterwards that certain pieces of the series were numbered, while others bear the marks of the suits, swords, money and cups. He adds further that on the piece of Bacchus, no. xiv., the following inscription may be read: "Col permesio del Senato Veneto nel' anno ab urbe condila MLXX'; which would assign the execution of these prints to the year 1491, if the date of the foundation of that city be taken in A.D. 421, and not 453, as usually done.


"The design and composition of these cards is remarkable in this, that the actions of the figures and the play of the muscles have a certain exaggeration which so recalls the style of Pordenone, that in adapting the date 453 as that of the foundation of Venice, one would be tempted to refer to their execution to 1523, if the details of the costumes--which laatter is the end of the fifteenth century--did not fulfill better the conditions of the other hypothesis.

"Further, the comparatively poor design and somewhat coarse technical execution by means of oblique hatchings, correspond better with the work of the first epoch of Mantegna.

"We have seen twenty pieces of this series in the Albertine collection at Vienna, these came from the cabinet of Count Fries ; three other pieces is the cabinet of the Baron de Haas, in the same city, eventually passing into the Imperial Library, and four others in the British Museum at London. Nevertheless, we could not maintain that all these cards belonged to one and the same edition, though they are of similar dimensions and treated in a like style, since some may be copies only, as would appear to be actually the case with respect to the two numbers 14 afterwards described, and which differ from each other.

"Although Cicognara saw at Naples and Milan two complete series of these cards, he gives but an incomplete account of their number, contours, figures and design. We would observe only that if the figure of Panafilio be maked with the number 1, i may show that the pieces before us formed part of a Giuoco del Fante di Spade, in which, according to Venetian custom, this ards is the highest of all the pieces.

"As far as we can judge from the thirty-two cards known to us, there should be twenty numbered figures, while the other cards (king, queen, knight and knaves) ore the marks of the suits of spade, coppe, denari and bastoni." (Pass, vol. v. pp. 127-129).

[5 1/8 x 2 7/8 in.]
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I guess the Sola Busca was not a full deck?


And if were still, as incomplete as they were, the inspiration for the Smith Waite deck published by Rider first in 1910...well, took an artist and author to see it through to become a full deck!

Hope this is of interest.

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Kaplan II, p. 297 ff

Arthur M. Hind had photos of the complete colored deck from a Sola-Busca family in Milan 1934, had opportunity to see the deck in reality and published his material in 1938 in his "Early Italian engraving : a critical catalogue with complete reproduction of all the prints described", London 1938-1948, volume 1.

The family is said to have disappeared during WWII ... so parts of the original deck might be lost forever, whereby others still exist at other locations.

Kaplan speaks of London and Vienna as locations of earlier findings, not colored versions - specific inscriptions details of the colored version are missing.

Hoffmann in 1972 presented one colored card, which he called a forgery.

A German wikipedia article presents the information, that the photos were taken 1907 and given to British library. Other web sources confirm this information, one that I noted mentions an exhibition in 1907, which showed the photos.
If this is correct, it would mean, that Pamela Smith possibly was similar informed about the Sola-Busca, as we're nowadays.
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At a glance Hind references one colored version of the deck as modern recoloring...


I glanced at the Sola Busca book from U.S. Games (correction) But only located that yellow paperback and Hind's Early Italian Engraving--it is way too late right now, will try to report back tomorrow.

Thanks for the information, Huck, will get back to this soon.

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The case of the Sola-Busca photos in 1907 is a topic in Tarot Encyclopedia III, p. 30.
Pamela Smith was in London then. In November 1909 she wrote ... "I've just finished a big job for very little cash! a set of designs for a pack of Tarot cards 80 designs."

Kaplan shows there some of the observed similarities, from which me and my critical mind would take more than the half off the record to the chapter "not really similar". 3 pairs I would judge as rather similar.

:-) Look for yourself in our compare function ...

http://trionfi.com/m/

left (at the bottom) -4k : deck number d02394 - modern Sola-Busca
right (at the bottom) -4k : deck number d02443 - Rider Waite

at http://trionfi.com/0/j/d/solabusca/ you can see also the photos, though not a very good resolution.
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All 78 photos described as text in Hind Volume II; can only find 4 pictures in Hind Volume I now


My Hind is dated 1909 and while the 1907 presentation in facsimile as photos are described in volume II there are only four illustrations in Volume I of the Sola Busca.

I will page through more carefully but if you referenced the Hind edition of 1909, only 78 cards in text description written is in Hind Volume II on pages 257 to 272.

Hind carefully describes where originals were likely found in scattered collections but as of 1909 his footnote of Cicognara describing another pack in Cicognara's possession doubts the seven reproductions given--Hind wrote this:

1)Cicignara describes another pack as being in his own collection, but from the seven reproductions given it is impossible to judge either of their school or authenticity, through the style is reminiscent of Nicoletto da Modena. In any case they cannot date before the early part of the sixteenth century. I do not know where a set is to be found (see L. Ciconara, Memorie, pp. 163, etc; Passavant pp. 132-133.)

Hind, Volume II Text
Page 257
E. II The Sola-Busca Tarocchi

If you were consulting Hind as of 1909 you would not see the whole deck!

There are only 4 engravings in Hind Volume I of the Sola Busca after the 50 Mantegna instructional cards:

Gentleman with falcon (E II 10)
Sarafi (E II 11)
Amone (E II 12)
Palas (E II 13)

I will check my Encyclopedia of the Tarot, the yellow U.S. Games (correction) book on the Sola Busca and my auction catalog--it is also known as Ancient Warriors Tarot..
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Apparently, the deck was thought to be lost for a while, but actually it was safely in possession of the Sola-Busca family.
According to the main Italian newspaper (Corriere della Sera) it was recently bought by the Brera museum for 800.000 Eur (1.000.000 $). It will probably be on display in an exhibition about Ferrarese art at the end of this year.

Images of the deck are available here:
http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Sola-Busca_gallery

The lost "Cicognara" deck apparently was a better quality version of the Leber Tarot. See this post by Michael J. Hurst:
http://pre-gebelin.blogspot.com/2009...uen-tarot.html
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Ah, thank you Dr. Arcanus! Good news!


I look forward to reading or hearing about further developments on when the Brera Museum decides to exhibit the Sola Busca family deck!

Now I can check online to find a copy of the Hind volume I copyright 1934 or later through print on demand or such for the actual plates, etc.

If anyone does hear about a Brera catalog with the Sola Busca they bought as of 2010...see the exhibit or hear news...etc, I'd be all ears and eager to get a copy of the exhibit catalog from the Brera Museum.

Best,

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