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Hi Christine,

"Lazzarelli took his inspiration from the now famous contemporary collection of miniatures known as the Tarocchi of Mantegna." (Hanegraaf)

It's still an open question, if the socalled Mantegna Tarocchi was so early as suggested (ca. 1465) bei Hind. In the contrary I suggest, that Lazzarelli was the one, who influenced the later order of the Mantegna Tarocchi (ca. 1475) ... possibly only as an influence of his text, possibly in person.

Hind in his time (1938) suggested, that the engravings of the Mantegna Tarocchi look similar to the work of the engraver of the "unknown" Ptolemy of 1478. What Hind apparently didn't know, was, that the likely engraver for this was already identified as Sweynheim. a German printer (belongs to the Sweynheim&Pannartz, both the first German printers in Italy). It seems, that Sweynheim engraved either himself or used an "unknown" artist, who engraved for him (likely it was simply Sweynheim). Sweynheim was in Rome, Lazzarelli was in Rome around that time. Lazzarelli couldn't have used his manuscript before 1474 (when Montefeltro became duke).

It's proven, that friends of Lazzarelli used iconography of the Mantegna-series for other things (as coin-illustration).
It's also proven, that the Mantegna series took a strong influence on early German humanists (much stronger than elsewhere) - which looks natural, as Sweynheim was a German and had naturally German connections, better connections than his Italian colleagues had. Also it's proven, that Lazzarelli was in Germany a prefered Italian author - more than elsewhere.
Also it's evident, that Lazzarelli's great friend and master - Mercurio alias Giovanni di Correggio - carried the name of a Mantegna Tarocchi figure.

Lazzarelli - as it is said somewhere and I wished, I would know the start of the story -, collected his pictures in a Venetian bookstore. It's not said, if all pictures were made from the same painter or of a complete set of engravings. It's not said, that the pictures already had numbers.

Lazzarelli could have used any picture, that he found interesting enough. He composed his book out of it - illuminations, not engravings.

The natural conclusion is, that Lazzarelli (other possibility: someone, who knew Lazzarelli or his text) composed also later the 50 Mantegna-Tarocchi-system, enlarging his own concept, which he already used before.

Sweynheim did just that, what other copperplate engravers also did: He copied, what he was given, with a new technique, which he could use in the manner of a master. (although he was "only" a printer).
Sweynheim had worked in the Gutenberg printing house in Mainz - and there were active masters of this new technique.

It's possible, that Sweynheim thought for a while printing the more attractive technique, also he had become a Dominican, when he left Mainz in ca. 1463. Perhaps he had religious reasons to stop his artistical productions for some time.
He worked some years on the Ptolomy, since 1473 till his death (1475 - 1777 ?) - something, which he wouldn't have done, when he had an "unknown" artist, who worked for him as copperplate engraver.

Pannartz stayed printer.

Various researches:
and some more pages - still in development


Hi Lothar, great to hear from you!

Thanks so much for all the context and backstory you have provided. Here are my responses;

As to the idea, as you suggest, that " Lazzarelli was the one, who influenced the later order of the Mantegna Tarocchi (ca. 1475) ... possibly only as an influence of his text, possibly in person. "

...I really have no opinion one way or the other with this. Until we find the classical prototype for that odd muse-ordering they both employ, it's hard to say who took what from whom. I will admit I didn't ever see a zodiac in the Mantegna Muses though I've been looking at them for years. It is Lazzarelli's cut-and-paste job that revealed the inner architecture, if indeed I'm seeing anything real at all.

I can't follow the sense of your remark here; what do you mean "used" in this sentence: "Lazzarelli couldn't have used his manuscript before 1474 (when Montefeltro became duke)"?

You say: "Also it's evident, that Lazzarelli's great friend and master - Mercurio alias Giovanni di Correggio - carried the name of a Mantegna Tarocchi figure."

If Lazzarelli's series came first, why would you call this a "Mantegna figure"?

It's hard to see the relevance of this coincidental naming, given that the first time we hear about the 'prophet' Correggio is the 1480's, at least a decade after the creation of Lazzarelli's Trump set. Lazzarelli himself could have dubbed Correggio with that moniker.

You say: "The natural conclusion is, that Lazzarelli (other possibility: someone, who knew Lazzarelli or his text) composed also later the 50 Mantegna-Tarocchi-system, enlarging his own concept, which he already used before."

What seems natural to me is the idea of finding a Zodiac next to the Planets in a set of memory icons. Also the idea that a 22-unit sequence on the Hermetic Cosmos can be 'unfolded' into a 50-unit sequence (or 50 folded down to 22, either way). We see this kind of experimentation going on outside of the context of Tarot as well, both among the various game packs, and also in the correspondence lists assembled by the theurgical Magi of the era. The letter-numbers are understood to encompass not only decimal natures but also qualities that stem from their ordinal relations (their simple counted order in the sequence). So all of this seems in-built together.

What seems unnatural to me is this bizarre and asymmetrical Muse-list as enforced by the roman numerals that come with their titles. Until I can figure out why they appear in this order and no other, I will not be assuming that I know what is 'natural' for this series, or which set of images came first.

Let me know what you think!



Hi Christine,

Lazzarelli's ordering of Muses was from Fulgentius (thanks to John Meador, who explored this), see:

You had trouble to understand this:
"Lazzarelli couldn't have used his manuscript before 1474 (when Montefeltro became duke)"

The manuscript was first dedicated to Duke Borso d'Este, but this one died in August 1471 (so Lazzarelli couldn't use it). The dedication was erased and the same text was dedicated to duke Federico Montefeltro (but the old dedication still was decipherable). As duke Montefeltro became duke in 1474, Lazzarelli couldn't have used his text before 1474 to present it to him ... the result of the interaction was a gift of 50 ducatos from Montefeltro to Lazzarelli (and so the manuscript went to Urbino).

It seems most likely, that this interaction happened, when Montefeltro after a successful military campaign in summer 1474 got the title in Rome. At that time Montefeltro cooperated with Lorenzo Zane, who was Lazzarelli's sponsor in Rome some time.
However, the first appearance of Lazzarelli in Rome is in doubt, at least for Hanegraaf, maybe 1473 or 1475.

(It's a possibility, that Lorenzo Zane managed the manuscript deal with Montefeltro and that Lazzarelli wasn't personally involved)

True is, that Lorenzo Zane used a Mantegna Tarocchi motif (Astrologia) on a coin probably in 1473, when he arrived in Rome - likely related to the Lazzarelli manuscript (although this doesn't include an Astrologia). Also it is true, that Lazzarelli's pupil in Varano used a coin with a Muse motif (Euterpe) from the Mantegna Tarocchi motifs between 1471-1482.

And it is true, that Lazzarelli's later friend Giovanni da Correggio took the name pseudonym "Mercurio" ... a name, which appears in the Mantegna Tarocchi.

According to our researches it seems most likely, that Lazzarelli saw Borso d'Este in early 1471, when Borso visited Camerino and Lazzarelli's master Cesare Varano on his journey to Rome, where he wished to receive the duke title of Ferrara. So Lazzarelli prepared the dedication and the manuscript then. But Borso died too early the same year, so Lazzarelli had no sponsor to address.

Sorry, I use the name "Mantegna Tarocchi" to reassure, that a reader knows, what I'm talking about, because it is the common name for the set of 50 motifs. I don't want to indicate, that anything was made by Mantegna ... it's just a riddle, where these pictures are from.

It seems true, that some of these motifs were found by Lazzarelli in a Venetian book store, but there is no guarantee, that he got all pictures of the same source and hand and that the complete series already existed as an edition with numbers.

Definitely the series got a high popularity, curiously especially in Germany (many examples have survived).
Hind as an expert for early Italian copperplate engravings expressed the opinion, that the series might be related to the "unknown" artist, who made the Ptelomy edition of 1478. However, this "unknown engraving artist" was already deciphered long ago as the German printer Sweynheim, famous as one as two first printers in Italy ... this is in complexity confirmed by letters.

Definitely the composition has a "Venetian face", but this doesn't guarantee, that it was made totally in Venice. Lazzarelli/Lorenzo Zane is the team, which might have brought the Venetian components to Rome, where they were realised by a German technican (Sweynheim), who probably just followed the ideas and picture collections of the poet with the idea (Lazzarelli), probably managed by a dubious papal agent (Lorenzo Zane), who did run soon in great difficulties and soon had serious troubles with his sonsored poet (Lazzarelli), who expressed himself as being very disappointed (Lazzarelli) by Lorenzo Zane.

The success of the series explains probably with the Jubilee year 1474, which attracted many visitors, also from Germany.

The fact of the "unknown artist" ... how is it possible, that a famous successful production in history wasn't related somehow to a producer? Sweynheim died soon, his publisher Calderinus died soon, his partner Pannartz died soon and Lorenzo Zane and Lazzarelli as the survivors of the process ended in an unpleasant situation. So it seems, that the true story simply got lost and life proceeded without leaving great remarks about the process.

Well, see


Sorry ...
please correct the typo "the Jubilee year 1474" with "the Jubilee year 1475"


Hi Lothar --

I appreciate the clarification regarding Fulgentius. Also thank you for amplifying the issue of the 1475 dating. The essential question remains, where did the originals come from, and were they already a set when Lazzarelli took ahold of them to assemble in the way that he did? I hope that future researches bring us more clues.


Christine Payne

By the way, the most amazing article I have read about the Lazzarelli icons is this one:

It clears up a lot of questions about whether the early Tarot decks would have been seen as "magical" or not.

Remember, this is the 1st century of Tarot's existence! So it started right up under a cloud of suspicion, though luckily the cards managed, just barely, to evade the censor's list...

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