Garden of Thoughts

Giuseppe Porta, detto il Salviati

Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, 1520 – Venice 1575

Modern print from woodcut matrix, 246 x 195 x 23mm

Inv. LV. 172

The Galleria Estense, Modena

This woodcut entered the Galleria Estense collections in 1887 from the collection of Milanese antiquarian, Pietro Barelli. The print bears the signature of Giuseppe Porta, the famous painter who presumably also carved the matrix. It was the frontispiece for the divinatory book ‘Le sorti di Francesco Marcolini intitolato Giardino dei Pensieri’first published in1540 by the famous typographer from Forlì, Francesco Marcolini. The book is a complex study of foresight, written in rhyme and based on the interpretation of playing cards. In the sceneconsidered by many scholars to be an outright manifesto for the Mannerist stylea group of astrologers in a sort of School of Athens are intent on discussing the fate of the universe, meanwhile philosophers scrutinise playing cards in the foreground, attempting to uncover the symbolic and divinatory meanings hidden therein.