THE VIRTUE JUSTICE
On top of the third group, the Ascent to Light, we find the Virtue Justice. Justice is portrayed here below, and again, there is a remarkable resemblance with the corresponding figure on the painting of the Pesollino workshop.
The figure on the left is part of the same painting we presented Under the page dealing with the Virtues Temperance and Strength. On the right side we have again the minitiaturized version on the Estensi (Charles VI) deck. The images are exactly the same, up to the pleats in the dress of the Virtue. The painting is from approximately 1450. Francesco Pesollino was born in 1422 as Francesco di Staphano. He took the name of his grandfather, Giuliano Giuochi, called Pesello. To distinguish himself from his grandfather, he called himself Pesollino (small Pesello). He was raised by his grandfather and worked in his studio and in the workshop of Filippo Lippi. It was probably not Francesco Pesollino himself who painted the Virtues. He had a big workshop, and every painting produced here was called a painting of Pesollino's workshop. Pesollino died at the age of only 35 years in 1457. Ercole I ordered the Trionfi deck probably later than 1460, the year he returned to Ferrara, but probably before 1470, the year he became Duke. In my opinion the Estensi deck has been created by one of the artists from the workshop of Pesollino, and in view of the ressemblances probably even by an artist who has worked himself on the 1450 painting of the seven Virtues.
The trump cards that Ercole I commissioned do not have heraldic devices, nor on the Estensi deck, nor on the deck he commissioned for his marriage, called the Este deck. The heraldic symbolism is limited to the shields represented on the court cards of the Este deck. But even on the shield of the Page of Swords, the only surviving court card in the Estensi deck, there are no heraldic signs at all. Every handcrafted deck is full of heraldry, this is the only deck without the slightest heraldic element. There are people who suspect Ercole that he commanded only the Trumps, to have a visible base of discussion for promoting his vision on the Trump card structure. The Page of Swords was produced as an example, for the case if anyone ever wanted to complete the deck. The heraldic blason was not shown, if anyone completed the deck, he could put its own blason on the shield. Probably on one occasion or another he offered the Estensi cards to the French court, reason why the surviving cards are actually in France.
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