Giovanni dalla Gabella, card painter in Ferrara 1423

I've made earlier some observations about Ortalli's work in "The Prince and the playing cards" ... ... edir_esc=y
... which led to the notes at ...
Card history knows Parisina from 3 documents, which means, that most of the early card documents of Ferrara are related to Parisina.

1422: In the oldest Ferrarese card document. Parisina is not mentioned.
1423: Marchesa Parisina Malatesti orders, that the painter Giovanni dalla Gabella should be paid 40 gold ducats for an extreme valuable pack of cards.
1423: October, Parisina wrotes to Florence to get "a pack of VIII imperadori cards made with fine gold". The costs are 7 florins plus some expenses for bringing them to Ferrara. It is the first appearance of the name "Imperatori" as a card deck, the "8" associates, that these are additional cards.
1424: 18th of September, Parisana wrote from the Portomaggiore residence to Ferrara asking for two packs "cartiselle de quelle de docena", worth around 4 or 5 soldi per pack (relatively cheap). 3 days later she wrote again and notes, that she had received the two packs "sent to be used by our girls", probably refering to her daughters (both ca. 5 years old).
Between them is noted "Giovanni dalla Gabella", who once was paid with a high price of 40 gold ducats (the second highest price known behind the 1500 ducats for the Michelino deck). I speculated once, that Giovanni della Gabella might have been Giovanni di Paolo ... ... ht=gabella
... but I became skeptical about it, noting that "Gabella" might be a general term or even indicating a "location" term.
Well, it stood, that "Gabella" was a specific form of art objects, but the definition isn't clear to me ... I understood folders for documents, which had a design on wood at their outside, mostly decorated with heraldic shields and with these indicating the content of the folder, but I saw other confusing interpretations, so I'm far away from understanding this.


More of these: ... te-di.html
Also here: ... Italy/4128

This folder decoration was especially used in Siena and about the artist name "Giovanni dalla Gabella" the speculation is near, that this might have been an artist of Siena.

In my earlier research I didn't become aware, that there was a stronger connection between Ferrara and Siena. But now I recently explored the hidden person of Anselino Salimbeni alias Anselmo Salimbeni in Ferrara and attempted to reconstruct, how this person or his family might have reached Ferrara. The Salimbeni were from Siena.

Niccolo, long reigning signore of Ferrara till 1441, had the problem, that his wife didn't get children. So he got children from a noble woman of Siena, Stella del Tolomei detta dell Assasino, and this were Ugo (1405), Leonello (1407) and Borso (1413) and with these very important and dominant sons between the many children of Niccolo a connection was given between Siena and Ferrara.
For Siena in 1419 we have, that the long dominant Salimbeni family fell into a crisis, and that possibly a good part of Sienese exiles connected to the Salimbeni family spread through Italy and a part of them might have reached Ferrara. So a Salimbeni family in Ferrara since c. 1419 would be logical, but also artists connectd to the famil are not impossible.
So a great artist "Giovanni di Paolo" (or another Giovanni) from Siena in Ferrara is possible.

In my earlier research I found:
I took (after my discovery of an identity between "Giovanni della Gabella" and "Giovanni di Paolo", of which I thought reason to redraw it) a walk to the library and detected a "Giovanni di Paolo" in a small entry of a dictionary about miniaturists. This entry included the information, that this "Giovanni di Paolo" to have been 1423 (the year in which Giovanni della Gabella impressed Ferrara) in Ferrara ... so, in spite of my own doubts about this connection, there exists the possibility, that Giovanni di Paolo really had been in Ferrara.

Then I took a larger dictionary about artists and detected under "Giovanni della Gabelle (Gabella)", that he is said to have worked longer time for the court in Ferrara from 1423 - 1439, and his works had been playing cards and a cassone (as noted in 1423) and so curious things like paperhangings, embroidery, bed curtains and furniture (? possibly the cassone ?).

Then I took in the dictionary the entry "Giovanni di Paolo" and there I found nothing about a stay or an occasionally presence in Ferrara, but I found, that Giovanni di Paolo had earlier before 1439 commissions from a Milanese merchant (from this context I concluded, that this might have been a sign of presence in Northern Italy) and that Giovanni di Paolo had appeared under various names. Around the date of 1440 Giovanni di Paolo settled in Siena and had a long life there.

From all this I took the conclusion, that Giovanni della Gabella and Giovanni di Paolo might be still the same person ... just the case of a suspicion, not more.
Inside some Franceschini records I found indeed a note of Gabella for 1439. The dictionary had said, that this was the last.

Now I found recently ...
For the Ferrara-Siena connection I saw a remark, that Borso d'Este visited Siena on his journey to the bath of Pretiolo (near Ancona) in 1439.


This looks, as if Borso had (possibly) accompanied the council delegation from Ferrara to Florence in January 1439 and had then taken way to Siena to visit some relatives (of his mother's side; and possibly for other political reasons). Information about Borso's earlier time are rare, Niccolo was still living, and the declared first heir was Leonello, who already had a son. So Borso had some distance to his later position as Signore and duke of Ferrara.
... and I would think, that Borso's journey to Siena might have been also Giovanni dalla Gabella's journey.

I found, that also Niccolo III was noted as guest of Petriolo in 1439. ... osiena.htm
So this collective "leaving Ferrara" might refer to the condition, that Ferrara was struck by the plague end of 1438 (which became an argument to move the council to Florence).


I summarize a few items from my earlier research: ... ht=gabella


This is said to have been done 1421 by Giovanni di Paolo ...

Image ... index.html

... other sources stated, that there weren't works known of Giovanni di Paolo before 1425



As noted, Giovanni dalla Gabella is seen as an artist active in Ferrara 1423-1439 (which not naturally means, that he was all the time in Ferrara). His occupation his famous expensive playing cards, a cassone (1423) ...
A wedding gift for a maid of honour

(Parisina Malatesta, wife of Niccolò d'Este, asks the court administrators to pay for a gift of cassoni for one of her "maids-of-honour. Original source: A. Franceschini, Artisti a Ferrara in età umanistica e rinascimentale: testimonianze archivistiche. Parte I dal 1431 al 1471 (Ferrara 1993), p. 119)

January 1423
"We want you, our factors, to give and to pay Master Giovanni della Gabella, painter, 25 ducats in coins for his expenses and labour for two painted and gilded chests, which Pellegrina, our maid of honour and daughter of Zoexe, is having [as donora] for her wedding." ... #PPA247,M1
Women in Italy, 1350 - 1650" by Mary Rogers and Paolo Tingali

[A similar reference is given in this article, though for 1422 ... ... risina.htm
... Gabella is noted twice] [/quote]

... and paperhangings, embroidery, bed curtains and furniture.


General Biography ... &IRN=40626

Giovanni di Paolo – also known as Giovanni di Paolo di Grazia – was born in Siena, probably towards the end of the fourteenth century. Although his training is not recorded, it is likely that he had early Lombard patrons, and was influenced by Lombardian book illumination. His first recorded commission was in 1417 for a Book of Hours, and Giovanni executed both illuminations and panel paintings throughout his career. In 1420 he was paid for two important, now untraced, paintings for the convent at San Domenico and for the monastery of St Marta in Siena. The first work securely attributed to him is the Triumph of Venus 1421 (Louvre, Paris).

In the early 1420s Giovanni painted four altarpieces for San Domenico, Siena. The panel with Christ suffering and triumphant (Pinacoteca Nazionale, Siena) is probably from the first. The other polyptychs – the Pecci altarpiece 1426, the Branchini altarpiece 1427, and the Guelfi altarpiece 1445 – are now dispersed. In the Pecci altarpiece, Giovanni adhered to the Late Gothic tradition, with its sinuous lines and decorative details, while the Branchini altar shows the influence of Gentile da Fabriano. Giovanni joined the Sienese painters’ guild, the Ruolo dei pittori, in 1428, and became its rettore in 1441. In 1436, he produced the predella of the Fondi Altarpiece for San Francesco, Siena, and the Madonna della Misericordia, for the Servite church, Siena. In the period 1438–44 Giovanni created sixty-one miniatures of the Paradisoto illustrate Dante’s Divine Comedy (British Museum, London). In 1440 he painted the Crucifixion for the church of the Osservanza, Siena (Pinacoteca Nazionale, Siena). In the mid-1440s Giovanni collaborated with Sano di Pietro on a panel (untraced) for the Compagnia di S Francesco. He also produced his only fresco, the Crucifixion, in the hermitage of St Leonardo al Lago, and the Antiphonal made for the Augustinian monks at Lecceto (Biblioteca Communale degli Intronati, Siena). Two masterpieces of 15th-century Sienese art, Giovanni’s Paradise c.1445 and theCreation, and the Expulsion from Paradise c.1445 (both Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York), are generally held to have been part of the Guelfi altarpiece, the last painted for San Domenico.

From the 1440s Giovanni created numerous fine, artistically mature works, many of which are dated. He returned to earlier themes, devising new and innovative solutions. He also depicted subjects rarely treated in Sienese art, including scenes from the lives of Sts Catherine of Siena, Ansanus, John the Baptist, Clare and Galganus. In 1445 and a decade later he painted two versions of the Coronation of the Virgin (S Andrea, Siena and Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York). Between 1447 and 1449 Giovanni executed an important altarpiece for the church of Sta Maria della Scala, Siena, now dispersed. In the 1450s his style showed more clearly defined volumes and spatial relations, features which are evident in the architectural backgrounds of his most ambitious narrative cycle, the scenes from the Life of St John the Baptist. The St Nicholas altarpiece 1453 (Pinacoteca Nazionale, Siena) shows a close adherence to the style of Sassetta, an interest which proved fertile and around 1450–55 led to the production of some of his greatest works, including the altarpiece the Virgin and Child with SS Peter Damian, Thomas, Clare and Ursula(Pinacoteca Nazionale, Siena) and perhaps four predella panels with scenes from the Life of St Clare(various collections). The altarpiece which Giovanni produced in 1463, for Pius II’s new cathedral in Pienza, remains in situ. His last works are the predella of the San Galgano Altarpiece, c.1470 and the altarpiece for San Silvestro di Staggia, once signed and dated 1475 (both Pinacoteca Nazionale, Siena). From the Sienese quarter known as the Poggio dei Malavolti, near Sant-Agostino, Giovanni di Paolo made his will and died in 1482.
Beside the sentence "Although his training is not recorded, it is likely that he had early Lombard patrons, and was influenced by Lombardian book illumination. " the life description gives the impression, that he always had been in Siena and not in Northern Italy.

If "Giovanni dalla Gabella" should have been really "Giovanni di Paolo", then he can't have been all the time in Ferrara. With friendly relations between Ferrara and Siena as background it seems possible, that the artist occasionally lived at both places. After 1439 Giovanni di Paolo seems to have been clearly in Siena.

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