Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History



  • Le Sorti … intitolate giardino di pensieri (The Fates … Entitled Garden of Ideas): Garden of Ideas (frontispiece)
    Author: Francesco Marcolini (ca. 1500–after 1559), with verses by Lodovico Dolce (1508–1568)
    Venice: Francesco Marcolini, October 1540
    Printed book with woodcut illustrations; 12 3/16 x 8 11/16 x 7/8 in. (31 x 22 x 2.3 cm)
    Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1937 (37.37.23)

    The evocative woodcut that adorns the frontispiece of this fortune-telling book is prominently signed by the artist Giuseppe Porta (ca. 1520–ca. 1575) from the Garfagnana region of northern Tuscany, who later took the name Salviati in honor of his teacher, the well-known Mannerist painter Francesco Salviati. However, the composition is not original to Porta but closely copies an engraving by Marco Dente, a student of Marcantonio Raimondi who died in the Sack of Rome of 1527. By changing the book opening to show two pages from Marcolini's Le Sorti instead of an image of stars and planets, and by adding a pack of playing cards, the image has shifted from a gathering of scientists to a group of fortune-telling enthusiasts. The three women are probably intended as the three Parcae or Fates, who in ancient mythology spun, measured, and cut the thread of each human life. Shown carrying out these actions in an allegorical image on page 21 of the book, the Fates are especially appropriate to the cover of a publication entitled Le Sorti, or The Fates. In this frontispiece, where they are engaged in the pleasurable pursuit of fortune-telling, they seem more relaxed than in the engraving by Dente—the one in the foreground even seems to smile as she shows Marcolini's book to the pensive man beside her.

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  • Le Sorti … intitolate giardino di pensieri (The Fates … Entitled Garden of Ideas): Garden of Ideas (frontispiece)
    Author: Francesco Marcolini (ca. 1500–after 1559), with verses by Lodovico Dolce (1508–1568)
    Venice: Francesco Marcolini, October 1540
    Printed book with woodcut illustrations; 12 3/16 x 8 11/16 x 7/8 in. (31 x 22 x 2.3 cm)
    Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1937 (37.37.23)

    Le Sorti … intitolate giardino di pensieri (The Fates … Entitled Garden of Ideas): Woodcut frame with portrait of Marcolini, dedication page (pages 2 and 3)
    Author: Francesco Marcolini (ca. 1500–after 1559), with verses by Lodovico Dolce (1508–1568)
    Venice: Francesco Marcolini, October 1540
    Printed book with woodcut illustrations

    12 3/16 x 8 11/16 x 7/8 in. (31 x 22 x 2.3 cm)
    Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1937 (37.37.23)

    According to Vasari, this handsome portrait of Francesco Marcolini, the inventor of this new fortune-telling method and the entrepreneur who brought together talented designers, woodcutters, and writers to produce this fascinating book, is based on a drawing by Giuseppe Porta Salviati. The frame, with its expressive and delicately cut male and female herms, had been used earlier as the frontispiece to the first edition of Sebastiano Serlio's Regole generali, published by Marcolini in 1537 (43.65.12).

    Le Sorti … intitolate giardino di pensieri (The Fates … Entitled Garden of Ideas): Small woodcuts representing cards, larger woodcut of Fraud (page 33)
    Author: Francesco Marcolini (ca. 1500–after 1559), with verses by Lodovico Dolce (1508–1568)
    Venice: Francesco Marcolini, October 1540
    Printed book with woodcut illustrations

    12 3/16 x 8 11/16 x 7/8 in. (31 x 22 x 2.3 cm)
    Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1937 (37.37.23)

    Marcolini's method of predicting the future is more straightforward than Sigismondo Fanti's (25.7) but requires the use of a deck of cards. The deck that would have been employed had only three face cards—king, knight, and jack—and lacked the number cards three, four, five, and six.

    First the player must choose a question from the initial list, which included thirteen questions specific to men, thirteen specific to women, and twenty-fo

    Le Sorti … intitolate giardino di pensieri (The Fates … Entitled Garden of Ideas): Small woodcuts representing cards, larger woodcut of Wisdom (page 37)
    Author: Francesco Marcolini (ca. 1500–after 1559), with verses by Lodovico Dolce (1508–1568)
    Venice: Francesco Marcolini, October 1540
    Printed book with woodcut illustrations

    12 3/16 x 8 11/16 x 7/8 in. (31 x 22 x 2.3 cm)
    Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1937 (37.37.23)

    The most extraordinary image in Marcolini's book is this mysterious representation of Wisdom, a bearded man seated astride two others, with his foot on the prow of an ancient boat, a sea of faces floating behind him. With its contorted forms, twisted postures, and ambiguous space, this woodcut is unlike any of the other allegorical illustrations in the book, with the possible exception of Fraud, and has plausibly been attributed to Francesco Salviati, who was in Venice at the time and whose student Giuseppe Porta

    Le Sorti … intitolate giardino di pensieri (The Fates … Entitled Garden of Ideas): Small woodcuts representing cards, larger woodcut of the philosopher Socrates (page 126)
    Author: Francesco Marcolini (ca. 1500–after 1559), with verses by Lodovico Dolce (1508–1568)
    Venice: Francesco Marcolini, October 1540
    Printed book with woodcut illustrations

    12 3/16 x 8 11/16 x 7/8 in. (31 x 22 x 2.3 cm)
    Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1937 (37.37.23)

    In the last hundred pages of the book appear the answers to the questions posed at the beginning. These responses are in the form of verses composed by the well-known poet and translator Lodovico Dolce. The pages are adorned with a series of unusual images of philosophers, identified not by their attributes but by their actions, as described in Diogenes Laertes' Lives of the Philosophers. (These woodcuts would later be pressed into service to illustrate a 1611 edition of that book.) Here


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