Mathers, Willshire, Aurelia Visconti Gonzaga, Correr Museum

The following context is not clear to me: Who is Aurelia Gonzaga Visconti?

Mathers noted ...
W. Hughes Willshire, in his remarks on the General History of Playing-Cards, says: "The most ancient cards which have come down to us are of the Tarot's character. These are the four cards of the Musée Correr at Venice; the seventeen pieces of the Paris Cabinet (erroneously often called the Gringonneur, or Charles VI cards of 1392), five Venetian Tarots of the fifteenth century, in the opinion of some not of an earlier date than 1425; and the series of cards belonging to a Minchiate set, in the possession of the Countess Aurelia Visconti Gonzaga at Milan, when Cicognara wrote."

Willshire noted:
The most ancient cards which have come down to us are of the
tarots character. These are the four cards of the Musee Correr at
Venice; the seventeen pieces of the Paris Cabinet (erroneously called
often the Gringonneur, or Charles VI. cards of 1392) fine Venetian
tarots of the fifteenth century, in the opinion of some not of an*
earlier date than 1425 ; and the series of cards belonging to a Min-
chiate set in the possession of the Countess Aurelia Visconti Gonzaga
at Milan
, when Cicognara wrote. The date of the latter may be
concluded from the emblematic design of Love having on it the
combined armorials of the Prince Visconti and of Beatrice Tenda,
who was married to Filippo Maria Visconti in 1413, and ordained to
death by him in 1418. It is true that the cards of the Musee Correr ...


... are not emblematic ones, and therefore not in themselves true tarots
nor atutti, but they are numerals of the particular suit marks, viz.,
spade, coppe, danari, bastoni, which used to accompany the emble-
matic cards of the old Venetian sets, and hence may be assumed to
have formed part of a combined tarots sequence, probably the same
to which belong the twenty-three cards once in the cabinet of Cicog-
nara, and now in the possession of MM. Tross Freres at Paris, and
described by Merlin in the note at page 90 of his treatise. ... t_djvu.txt

For Museum Correr I once found the following and wrote about it at Aeclectic


A very similar deck to that of the Ronciglione pdf is given in re-engraved form by the author Merlin in the 1860s. Merlin noted, that such a deck would be in the Museum Correr then.


The Museum shows this cards ...

http://www.archiviodellacomunicazione.i ... EB=MuseiVE

Merlin shows these cards:


From all this I assumed, that Aurelia Gonzaga Visconti was just the owner contemporary to Cicognara 1832) of a Minchiate, which possibly might be identical to that, which is now owned by the Correr Museum, and which was presented by Merlin in 1869.

? Possibly identical to this person ... ... 5392710194
Birth: 1767 September 16, 1767
1795: Age 28 - Marriage of Aurelia Gonzaga to Gaetano Visconti
1802 : Age 34 - Birth of Uberto Visconti, duca di Modrone
1857: Age 89 - Death of Aurelia

There I'm confused. The Cary-Yale Tarocchi is also called Tarocchi Modrone, cause it had been in the possession of the Visconti di Modrone family.


Looking through it, I find, that Mathers writes "quoting Willshire" : "These are the four cards of the Musée Correr at Venice; the seventeen pieces of the Paris Cabinet (erroneously often called the Gringonneur, or Charles VI cards of 1392), five Venetian Tarots of the fifteenth century, in the opinion of some not of an earlier date than 1425; "

But Willshire said: "These are the four cards of the Musee Correr at
Venice; the seventeen pieces of the Paris Cabinet (erroneously called
often the Gringonneur, or Charles VI. cards of 1392) fine Venetian
tarots of the fifteenth century, in the opinion of some not of an*
earlier date than 1425 ;"

Mathers speaks of "five Tarots", but it are "fine Tarots" and this seems to relate to the 17 Gringonneur cards.


For the "Minchiate" of Aurelia Gonzaga Visconti it perhaps must be assumed, that she was just owner of the Cary Yale Tarocchi, and this was addressed as "Minchiate". So she possibly has nothing to do with the Minchiate cards in the Correr museum.

Looking at ...

Leopoldo Cicognara (1832) text: ... &q&f=false
page 11

... I find this confirmed.

************ ... di_Modrone
A Mausoleo of the Visconti di Modrone, and Aurelia is one of the oldest there.

Here I find her parents ...
Principe Francesco Niccolo [Gonzaga], 8th Marchese di Vescovado 1779, *26.12.1731, +4.9.1783; m.1756 Marchesa Olimpia Scotti
A5. Principessa Aurelia, *1767, +?; m.Gaetano Visconti Conte di Lonate Pozzolo (+1813)

There she is ... For the Cary Yale Tarocchi cards we naturally don't know, if they came from the Visconti line or from the Gonzaga line or were just bought by not defined ways.

But nonetheless her ancestors are interesting:
Giovanni, Signore di Vescovado, *1474, +23.9.1525; m.1494 Laura Bentivoglio (+1523), dau.of Giovanni II Signore di Bologna by Costanza Sforza dei Signori di Pesaro; they had issue:

A1. Federigo, Abbot, *1495, +1545
A2. Francesco, *1496, +1523; m.1515 Lucrezia Sforza
A3. Alessandro, Signore di Vescovado (1525-27), *1497, +1527; m.1513 Ippolita Sforza (+after 1527), dau.of Guido I Conte di Santa Fiora by Francesca Farnese
B1. Massimiliano, *1519, +1569; m.Porzia Gonzaga, dau.of Gian Luigi dei Conti di Novellara by Giovanna dei Conti Thiene
A4. Ginevra, a nun, *1498, +1570
A5. Sigismondo I, Signore di Vescovado (1527-30), *1499, +1530; m.Marchesa Antonia Pallavicini (+31.8.1554)
from this develops the line, which leads to Aurelia
A6. Camilla, *1500, +1585; m.1523 Pietro Maria Rossi, 2nd Marchese di San Secondo (+1547)
A7. Eleonora, *ca 1501, +young
A8. Galeazzo, Podesta di Modena, *1502, +1573
If one would assume, that the Cary-Yale Tarocchi would have been property and family treasure of the Sforza family, the natural point, where the deck might have left the family would have been the time of the Sforza crisis ... so "after 1500". But there were only one "ideal time". But one of the "ideal moments" would have been in 1515, the year, when Lucrezia Sforza married.

Lucrezia Sforza was illegitimate daughter to bishop Ottaviano Sforza.
In 1512 the Sforza reign was reinstalled with the young Massimiliano Sforza, who became a disappointment. At 20th of June 1512 Ottaviano took possession of Milan in the name of Massimiliano. As the "eldest of the Sforza" he naturally had a role of some importance, likely close to Isabella d'Este, who also got some merits in the reinstallation of the Sforza power in 1512. Isabella d'Este ... a playing card collector, as we know. Ottaviano had some "regency function" for the inexperieced Massimilano. This relation had a crisis in 1515 .. ... za&f=false
... and anyway, The French attacked in September 1515, and both, Massimilano and Ottaviano, had problems. Massimilano became a sort of "free prisoner" in France, Ottaviano's problems are not so clear. Likely he had to hide some of his treasures, that they they didn't became booty of the plundering French soldiers. Ottaviano could - likely - save a few things by giving them to his daughter Lucrezia in Vescovado (I'm not sure ... where this is, maybe 11 km distance NE to Cremona).
Lucrezia married the heir Francesco Gonzaga ...

From Cartwright, "Isabella d'Este, marchioness of Mantua, 1474-1539; a study of the renaissance", vol 2 ... j_djvu.txt
1523, death of Giovanni Gonzaga [count of Vescovedi]

That summer [1523] Isabella and her family were once
more thrown into mourning by the death of her
brother-in-law Giovanni Gonzaga and his wife Laura
Bentivoglio, who both died in the same week, the one
in the last days of August, the other on the 4th of Sep-
tember. Giovanni had always shown himself the most
loyal of subjects to his brother and nephew, and his
house in the BorgoPradella had been the scene of many
pleasant family gatherings. The loss of this honest
and genial prince was deeply regretted by Isabella,
and even more by Duchess Elisabetta, who was ten-
derly attached to her youngest brother, and had little
in common with his sons. The eldest, Alessandro,
was chiefly notorious for his quarrelsome temper and
inveterate love of gambling, and wasted both his time
and patrimony at cards.
According this the father Giovanni died in 1523 together with his wife Laura Bentivoglio. According euweb.genealogy (see above) the son Francesco died (Lucrezia's husband) and his mother Laura. So that's a contradiction and it's difficult to decide, which version is wrong.
Interesting is the remark ...." The eldest, Alessandro, was chiefly notorious for his quarrelsome temper and
inveterate love of gambling, and wasted both his time and patrimony at cards" ... which gives evidence, that card playing was definitely present.
Anyway, Lucrezia became a young widow in this time. A short time before the French were thrown out of Lombardy - again, and soon later would follow the battle of Pavia (1425) with new French troops in the region. And the Sforza reign was restored - again. So Ottaviano regained some of his influence.

About 10 years (1535) later the last Sforza duke died in Milan, and Ottaviano would have been the legal heir ... according Ottaviano's opinion. Reality saw this different. Ottaviano escaped to Venice, accompanied by Lucrezia.

This scene got literary fame, cause it became the frame story for a story collection, first published 1540 (25 storries), later published in 1550 in an enlarged edition an somehow still in work at the death of the author. It was translated to French in 1572 and then somehow it contained a Tarocchi passage.
We talked about this, somehow "unfinished" ...

proceeding a discussion, which started here ...


Well, it might be, that the Cary-Yale Tarocchi took its way to the Gonzaas of Vescavado and found back to the Visconti family, when Aurelia Gonzaga married a Visconti.

In Milan, the capital of Lombardy, an ancient city
abounding in graceful ladies, adorned with sump-
tuous palaces, and rich in all those things which
are fitted to so magnificent a town, there resided
Ottaviano Maria Sforza, Bishop-elect of Lodi, to
whom by claim of heredity (Francesco Sforza,
Duke of Milan, being dead) the sovereignty of the state rightfully
belonged. But through the falling in of evil times, through bitter
hatreds, through bloody battles, and through the never-ending vicis-
situdes of state affairs, he departed thence and betook himself
secretly to Lodi with his daughter Lucretia, the wife of Giovanni
Francesco Gonzaga, cousin of Federico, Marquis of Mantua,
there they abode some months. Long time had not passed before
his kinsmen discovered his whereabouts, and began forthwith to
annoy him ; so the unhappy prince, finding himself still the object of
their ill will, took with him what jewels and money he had about
him, and withdrew with his daughter, who was already a widow, to
Venice, where they found friendly reception from Ferier Beltramo,
a noble gentleman of most benevolent nature, amiable and graceful,
who with great courtesy gave them pressing invitation to take up
their abode in his own house. But to share the home of another
generally begets restraint, so the duke, after mature deliberation,
resolved to depart and to find elsewhere a dwelling of his own.
Wherefore, embarking one day with his daughter in a small vessel,
he went to Morano ...
[the Venice island, famous for his glass ware productions]
... , and having come there his eyes fell upon a
marvellously beautiful palace which at that time stood empty. He
entered it, and having taken note of its lovely position, its lofty halls,
its superb loggias, its pleasant gardens filled with smiling flowers and
rich in all sorts of fruit and blooming herbs, he found them all
highly to his taste. Then he mounted the marble staircase and
surveyed the magnificent hall, the exquisite chambers, and the bal-
cony built over the water, which commanded a view of the whole
place. The princess, captivated by the charm of the pleasant spot,
besought her father so strongly with soft and tender speeches, that
he to please her fancy hired the palace for their home. Over this
she rejoiced greatly, for morning and evening she would go upon the
balcony to watch the scaly fish which swam about in numerous shoals
through the clear salt water, and in seeing them dart about now here
now there she took the greatest delight. And because she was now
forsaken by the ladies who had formerly been about her court, she
chose in their places ten others as beautiful as they were good;
indeed, time would fail wherein to describe their virtues and their
graces. Of these the first was Lodovica, who had lovely eyes
sparkling like the brightest stars, and everyone who looked upon her
could not but admire her greatly. The next was Vicenza, of excellent
carriage, of fine figure, and of polished manners, whose lovely and
delicate face shone with refreshing beauty upon all who beheld it.
The third was Lionora, who, although by the natural fashion of her
beauty she seemed somewhat haughty, was withal as kindly and
courteous as any lady to be found in all the world. The fourth was
Alteria, with lovely fair hair, who held her womanly devotion ever at
the service of the Signora. The fifth was Lauretta, lovely in person,
but somewhat disdainful, whose clear and languishing glances surely
enslaved any lover who ventured to court them. The sixth was
Eritrea, who, though she was small of stature, yielded to none of the
others in beauty and grace, seeing that she had two brilliant eyes,
sparkling even brighter than the sun's rays, a small mouth, and a
rounded bosom, nor was there to be found in her anything at all
vhich was not worthy of the highest praise. The seventh was
Cateruzza, surnamed Brunetta, who, all graceful and amorous as she
was, with her sweet and loving words entangled not only men in her
snares, but could even have made descend from heaven the mighty
Jove himself. The eighth was Arianna, who, though young in years,
was grave and sedate in her seeming, gifted with a fluent tongue, and
encompassed with divine virtues, worthy of the highest praise, which
shone like the stars scattered about the heavens. The ninth was
Isabella, a highly-gifted damsel, and one who, on account of her wit
and skilful fence of tongue, commanded the admiration of the whole
company. The last was Fiordiana, a prudent damsel, with a mind
stored with worthy thoughts, and a hand ever prompt to virtuous deeds
beyond any other lady in all the world. These ten charming damsels
gave service to their Lady Lucretia both in a bevy and singly. The
Signora, in addition to these, chose two matrons reverend of aspect, of
noble blood, of mature age, and of sterling worth, to assist her with
their wise counsels, the one to stand at her right hand and the other
at her left. Of these one was the Signora Chiara, wife of Girolamo
Guidiccione, a gentleman of Ferrara; and the other the Signora
Veronica, the widow of Santo Orbat, of one of the oldest houses
of Crema. To join this gentle and honourable company there
came many nobles and men of learning, amongst whom were Casal
Bolognese, a bishop, and likewise ambassador of the King of England,
and the learned Pietro Bembo, knight of Rhodes and preacher to the
citizens of Milan, a man of distinguished parts and standing highest in
the Signora's favour. After these came Bernardo Capello, counted one
of the chief poets of the time, the amiable Antonio Bembo, Benedetto
Trivigiano, a man of jovial easy manners, and Antonio Molino,
surnamed Burchiella, with his pretty wit, Ferier Beltramo, a courteous
gentleman, and many others whom it would be tedious to name in
turn. It was the custom of these, or at any rate of the greater part of
them, to assemble every evening at the palace of the Signora Lucretia,
and to entertain her with graceful dances, and playful discourse, and
music and song, thus graciously beguiling the fleeting hours. Some-
times, too, certain problems would be propounded, to which the
Signora alone could find solution ; but as the days of Carnival drew
nigh, days always vowed to playfulness and riot, the Signora bade
them, under pain of her displeasure, to assemble next evening on
purpose to arrange what manner of feast they themselves should keep.
At the dusk of the next evening they all duly appeared in obedience
to her behest, and, having seated themselves according to their rank,
the Signora thus addressed them : " Honourable gentlemen and you
gracious ladies, now that we are come together according to our
wont, it seems well to me that we should order these pleasant and
gentle diversions of ours so as to furnish us with some jovial pastime
for the days of Carnival which are yet to run. Each one of you there-
fore will propose what may seem most acceptable, and the form of
diversion which proves to be to the taste of the greatest number shall
if it be seemly and decorous be adopted."

The ladies, and the gentlemen as well, declared with one voice
that everything should be left to the Signora's decision ; and she,
when she perceived their will, turned towards the noble company and
said : " Since it pleases you that I should settle the order of our
entertainment, I, for my part, would counsel that every evening, as
long as Carnival lasts, we should begin with a dance ; then that five
ladies should sing some song of their own choosing, and this finished,
that these five ladies, in order to be determined by lot, should tell
some story, ending with an enigma which we will solve, if our wit be
sufficient therefor. At the end of the story-telling we will disperse
to our homes for the night. But if these propositions of mine be
not acceptable to you, I will readily bow to any other which may
please you, and now I invite you to make your wishes known." ... t_djvu.txt

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