Andy's Playing Cards - The Tarot And Other Early Cards - page X - Viéville's tarot - part 2
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~~ Gallery 5 ~~
The Tarot and other Early Cards
· page X ·

VIÉVILLE'S TAROT

part 2
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GALLERY INDEX


other pages

page I
classic
tarots
page II
regional
tarots
page III
trump card
arrangements
page IV
modern &
non-standard
page V
theMulûk
wa-Nuwwâb
page VI
the Visconti
Tarots
page VII
the tarots
of Ferrara
page VIII
the tarot
of Marseille
page IX
the Tarot
de Paris
page XI
the
Minchiate
page XII
Mitelli's
Tarocchino
page XIII
Mantegna's
Tarot
page XIV
the
Hofjagdspiel
page XV
the
Hofämsterspiel
page XVI
the deck by
Jost Amman
page XVII
the Italy 2
Moorish deck

most cards shown in this page come from the replica of J. Viéville's tarot (marked JV) made by Héron (France)




THE TRUMPS
Despite the several differences pointed out so far, Viéville's tarot is indeed similar to Marseille's pattern for most of its subjects; many details match, and only a few trumps substantially differ, all of which belonging to the second half of the series.
Among the quasi-identical ones is Justice, whose female figure lost one position in ranking, but gained a pair of wings. These are a graphic corruption of the upright rear part of a chair or throne seen behind this allegory in the classic illustration from Marseille.
The twelfth trump, the Hanged Man, besides the reverse left-right orientation, seems to have been rotated, as well.
In fact, the number at the base of the card is IIX, i.e. a XII turned upside-down. Actually, this could also be the same XII turned left to right, but since no other number among the cards of the set appears reversed in this direction, and since this is the only subject whose number is printed at the bottom of the card, we may reasonably think that in the eyes of Jacques Viéville the Hanged Man was to be held in a "head-up feet-down" position, despite in this way the already peculiar attitude of the personage looks even more unnatural.
As mentioned in the Marseille gallery, part 2, problems in orienting this subject were sometimes found in some Marseille tarot editions, as well. The one shown on the far right has the number correctly placed, i.e. above the illustration, but spelt upside down, despite the name at the bottom makes it clear that this was the right way of looking at the card.
the Hanged Man, by JV (left) and by
I.Krebs (18th century, Marseille pattern)


JV - Temperance
More differences are found in Temperance, although at first sight they are not so eye-catching: the female figure is crowned, but without the wings she had been given in southern France (they were "stolen" by the aforesaid Justice). She no longer holds a vase in each hand, but a vase and a sceptre; the other vessel is resting on the ground. A completely new feature is the ribbon, or cartouche, on which runs vertically the motto SOL  FAMA, "the only fame", whose meaning may be "the only virtue (to be remembered for)". What is more interesting, though, is that the text is reversed, while the number XIIII is correctly spelt. This may suggest that the engraver was not too aware of the writing's meaning, and did not give the motto a great consideration, copying it merely as a graphic detail; this would also be consistent with the hypothesis mentioned in part 3 of a pattern whose plate may have been obtained by copying another deck, i.e. a positive model, whose text was spelt correctly, while the number XIIII may have not been copied from the same older model, and correctly added to the subject.
Another unusual feature is the colour scheme used for the figure's dress: half red and half blue, almost arranged as the quarters of a heraldic crest, probably referring to temperance as the virtuous blend of two opposites (also note how a blue fluid is being poured into a red one).

The Devil takes us back to the late medieval tradition, as it features a demon with many faces all over its body. The creature is seen sideways, without any small additional demon, unlike the Marseille scheme.
A similar representation was used by Italian tarots, in particular those of Bologna, which may suggest a further shade of influence for Viéville's tarot, this time coming from Dummett's group A, or southern group.


The sixteenth trump is Lightning.
Apparently, the winds of change that in the south of France had turned this subject into la Maison Dieu did not reach Paris, where the original name survived.

JV - the Devil

JV - Lightning
Unlike the card from the Tarot of Charles VI, more consistent with Marseille's pattern (click here for a picture), Viéville's allegory features a man below a tree, seeking shelter from a pouring rain that some clouds deliver after having covered the sun. Some of the "drops" are red and yellow, and likely refer to thunderbolts, whereas the clouds darkening the sun represent more symbolically God's rage.
This interpretation is probably more naive than the one used in earlier decks; the allegory found in the late 16th century Tarot de Paris basically had the same meaning, although its visual impact is even more symbolic, as thunder is represented by a demon with a drum.
The Lightning trump survived in the Flemish tarot (Regional Tarots, part 4), but definitively subsided when this pattern died out.

the Star, featuring an astronomer
tarot de Paris (left) and JV
The three cosmological subjects are rather close to the Tarot of Charles VI, and prove once again a relation between the tarots made in Paris and the ones from north-eastern Italy; today, the closest traces of this early pattern are found in Bologna's tarot. However, Viéville's set does not overlap the classic sequence of trumps of Ferrara's tarot, as if their ranking had been partially rearranged, and among them is even a new subject.
For an easy reference, the following table summarizes the subjects and ranks found in the tarots compared so far.

the Star,
tarot of Ercole I d'Este,
second half of the 1400s

   Paris and Wallon
   Ferrara
   Bologna
   central Italy
THE STARTHE MOONTHE SUN
tarot by J.Vieville (17th c.)a sitting astronomera woman with a long spindlea naked rider on horseback
Tarot de Paris (17th c.)a sitting astronomera woman with a long spindlea woman and a monkey
tarot of Ercole d'Este (15th c.)two standing astronomersa sitting astronomerDiogenes in a barrel
tarot of Charles VI (15th c.)(missing)two standing astronomersa woman with a long spindle
Bologna tarotthree dignitaries (Wise Men?)two standing astronomersa woman with a long spindle
Minchiatea dignitary on horsebacka sitting astronomera young couple

The table seems to suggest that the French cardmakers dropped one of the two astronomy subjects, maybe because they considered them redundant, so that the rank of the woman with a spindle was shifted back one position (from the Sun to the Moon), whence the opportunity of introducing a new allegory for the third subject.
Alternatively, the French cardmakers may have dropped one astronomer card for the specific purpose of bringing back the female figure to rank XVIII, so to respect the ancient symbolic relation between the Moon and female nature. In fact, in the Lombard tradition, i.e. in the Visconti tarots, as well as in Mantegna's cards, the Moon features a female allegory, representing goddess Diana, who often carries a bow and arrow. In the Cary sheet and later on in Marseille's pattern, the allegory remained a female, who pours water into a river.
the Moon from JV, the tarot of Charles VI and the tarot of Ercole d'Este

trump 16, Leber tarot:
note the arrow's rear end
The long spindle held by the woman in the Moon card of French origin and in the Sun card of the tarot of Charles VI may in fact be a graphic corruption of Diana's long arrow: in particular, the detail of its rear end. This can be easily understood from a card belonging to the Leber tarot (16th century, from northern Italy, but kept in Rouen, northern France), a non-standard pattern whose trumps had Latin mottos instead of names. The subject no.16 features a rather similar allegory, a female figure standing in the sea below an 8-pointed star, with a long arrow pointing downwards; its rear part, i.e. where the feathers are, is indeed very similar to the aforesaid spindle.

the Sun, from the
tarot of Charles VI

The nineteenth trump, the Sun, seems to be the one more freely interpreted, away from the strict cliché of the two twins found in the Lombardy-Marseille scheme.
In Vieville's edition a blonde naked rider on horseback carries a two-colour flag, without any specific clue except the red cross on the horse's hindquarters, although this likely represents the animal's harness, rather than a crest. This cross is very similar to the one that in most tarot editions (including Vieville's own) appears in the following subject, Judgement, on the flag that hangs from the angel's trumpet, and is a traditional symbol of resurrection.

Almost surprisingly, the last card, the World, abandons the north-eastern Italian scheme and turns back again towards the southern French heritage, featuring the classic female figure that holds a sceptre, inside the almond-shaped wreath, with the Tetramorph (i.e. the evangelists' symbols) in the four corners.

JV - the Sun


part 1
HISTORICAL SETTING AND GENERAL FEATURES

further reference to tarot decks can be found in Trionfi and in The Hermitage



page I
classic
tarots
page II
regional
tarots
page III
trump card
arrangements
page IV
modern &
non-standard
page V
theMulûk
wa-Nuwwâb
page VI
the Visconti
Tarots
page VII
the tarots
of Ferrara
page VIII
the tarot
of Marseille
page IX
the Tarot
de Paris
page XI
the
Minchiate
page XII
Mitelli's
Tarocchino
page XIII
Mantegna's
Tarot
page XIV
the
Hofjagdspiel
page XV
the
Hofämsterspiel
page XVI
the deck by
Jost Amman
page XVII
the Italy 2
Moorish deck



OTHER GALLERIES

non-standard patterns advertisement decks sizes, shapes and colours standard pattern variants non-suited cards Mercante in Fiera Uta Karuta, Iroha Karuta, Dôsai Karuta Âs nas
regional patterns: Italy regional patterns: Spain regional patterns: Germany regional patterns: Austria regional patterns: Switzerland regional patterns: France regional patterns: Sweden regional patterns: Portugal regional patterns: China regional patterns: South-Eastern Asia regional patterns: Japan regional patterns: India uncut sheets mottos and proverbs

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