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GALLERY INDEX
~~ Gallery 5 ~~
The Tarot and other Early Cards
· page X ·

VIÉVILLE'S TAROT

part 1
back to the
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)




HISTORICAL SETTING AND GENERAL FEATURES

JV - the Chariot,
trump number VIII
Around the mid 1500s, while the south of France had already become confident with the new card game imported from Lombardy, the northern part of the country was probably being introduced to the same novelty.
Besides a number of fancy or non-standard tarots, mainly produced during the same 16th century, the standard pattern adopted in northern France by those days was certainly based upon the cards coming from Lombardy through Lyon, i.e. the early Marseille tarot. But this was not the only influence received by the cardmakers of Paris. They certainly knew the Spanish cards, as well as the hunting decks from German-speaking countries, and - most of all - they knew the tarots from north-eastern Italy, similar in structure to the Lombard ones, but whose illustrations might have been judged more appealing.

The deck presented in this page was made in Paris by cardmaker Jacques Viéville, active from 1643 to 1664. There is enough evidence that during the same years other manufacturers (for instance Jean Noblet, c.1650) were producing tarots with the classic Marseille pattern.
But Viéville's own cards, yet close enough to the standard design that had come from the south of France, reveal some interesting differences, which are consistent with the aforesaid influence likely exerted by the north-eastern Italian design, i.e. the one classified by Dummett as B, or eastern group, or Ferrara tarot (see page III for details).

Viéville's deck still consists of its original 78 subjects. Unfortunately, this is not true for other decks made in northern France during the same age, a few of which have survived only partly, and many of which have completely disappeared. Therefore, we may wonder whether this tarot should be labelled as a new pattern, that would have coexisted with the more traditional Marseille variety, rather than considering it simply "Viéville's edition", i.e. a deck that the French maker produced as a variant, after having been influenced by Italian decks, but that was not followed by any other local maker.

There is also a third possibility: this tarot may have been the early sign of a slow change that about one century later led to the creation of the pattern used in northern France and Belgium during the 1700s (see Van Den Borre's tarot for more details).
In fact, many differences in Viéville's tarot are also present in earlier samples (for instance, in the 16th century Tarot de Paris, that came from the same city), and the ones found in the French-Belgian pattern, that would have developed between Rouen, Bruxelles and Gent, are even more similar. And most of these differences almost certainly came from the tarot of Ferrara (group B).

It is probably not a coincidence that one of the famous luxury tarots of the 15th century belonging to the aforesaid group, the so-called tarot of Charles VI, ended up in Paris, where it is still held.
Despite the name, the aforesaid cards of Charles VI are not at all French. They were painted in the north-east of Italy during the late 1400s, and were taken to France maybe soon afterwards, inspiring a wrong but long-lasting theory according to which the deck had been created for the French king Charles VI, to entertain the sick monarch who suffered from fits of madness. But Charles' reign ended in 1422, whereas the style of the tarot's illuminations definitely mismatches such an early dating.
However, the Tarot de Paris shows that Ferrara's pattern may have reached the French capital even earlier than the tarot of Marseille.

the Hanged Man, from
the Tarot of Charles VI
(Ferrara pattern)
Here is the list of the trumps in Viéville's tarot. In brackets are the names usually found in Marseille's version and their rank (the latter is shown only for the mismatching ones).

I · BAGA
the Trivial Performer
[LE BATELEUR]
VIII · not mentioned
the Chariot
[VII · LE CHARIOT]
XV · DYABLE
the Devil
[LE DIABLE]
II · PAPESSE
the Popess
[LA PAPESSE]
IX · FORCE
Force
[XI · LA FORCE]
XVI · LA FOUDRE
Lightning
[LA MAISON DIEU]
III · L'IMPERATRYCE
the Empress
[L'EMPERATRICE]
X · not mentioned
the Wheel of Fortune
[LA ROUE DE FORTUNE]
XVII · LES ETOILLES
the Stars
[L'ETOILE]
IIII · ANPEREUR
the Emperor
[L'EMPEREUR]
XI · VIELART
the Hermit
[IX · L'HERMITE]
XVIII · LA LUNE
the Moon
[LA LUNE]
V · PAPE
the Pope
[LE PAPE]
XII · PENDU
the Hanged Man
[LE PENDU]
XIX · LE SOLEIL
the Sun
[LE SOLEIL]
VI · AMOUREUX
the Lovers
[L'AMOUREUX]
XIII · not mentioned
Death
[LA MORT]
XX · TROMPE
the Trumpet
[LE JUGEMENT]
VII · YUSTICE
Justice
[VIII · LA JUSTICE]
XIIII · not mentioned
Temperance
[LA TEMPERANCE]
XXI · MONDE
the World
[LE MONDE]
not mentioned
the Fool
[LE MAT]


JV - ace of Coins
The technique used by Viéville for the making of this tarot was the same one adopted in the south, i.e. woodblock prints, coloured by means of stencils.
The overall result may appear very similar to a classic tarot of Marseille, but a more careful examination reveals several differences. For instance, Viéville's tarot does not state the names of the subjects, but their rank number alone. Nevertheless, almost all of the subjects are mentioned on the ace of Coins and the 2 of Cups (see both illustrations), in a sort of invocation, thanks to which their names were recorded. In the text they are not ordered, but their ranking is easily understood by the number they bear.

JV - 2 of Cups

With regard to the ordering or ranking of the subjects, the Chariot and the Hermit respectively swap their ranks with Justice (the next card) and with Force (the next but one). This does not correspond to Ferrara's standard ranking (see page III), except the position of the Hermit, which is the eleventh subject in both series.
The names still reveal a close connection to the Italian tarot, as Baga (Italian Bagatto; French Bateleur) is used for the Trivial Performer, and the Tower is still called la Foudre ("lightning"), whereas in the south of France this subject was turned into la Maison Dieu. Trump number XVII is les Etoilles, i.e. "the stars" (plural), whereas the name is usually in its singular form, but this may be simply due to the need of using this form in the aforesaid written invocation. Lastly, the penultimate trump is no longer le Jugement but Trompe, i.e. "trumpet", referring to the instrument blown by the angel to wake the dead, i.e. the Final Judgement's traditional iconography but, again, this may simply be a way of referring to this subject in the written text, rather than the name actually used by players.

JV - the Trivial Performer,
or Baga


THE REVERSED ORIENTATION
king of Cups: JV (left)
and N.Conver from Marseille (right)
Before discussing the illustrations of individual trumps, a general consideration is that all the subjects of Viéville's tarot look towards the opposite direction faced by the ones of Marseille. For example, the Trivial Performer shown above is oriented towards the left, while in any Marseille tarot it looks to the right (the comparative table in part I shows samples from various patterns). This discrepancy is true for all the trumps subject to a lateralization. It is not a peculiarity of this specific edition alone, as also the trumps of the Tarot de Paris, made some 50 years earlier, are consistent with the directions found in Viéville's cards. Furthermore, not only the 22 trumps are reversed, but all the cards of the deck, although this may be told only by the non-symmetrical subjects, i.e. the 16 courts, and the aces of Swords and Batons, easily orientable thanks to the well-known detail of the hand.

Curiously, only one trump, the Emperor, sits facing the left in most editions of both kinds of tarot.

A similar comparison is difficult to make with the Italian 15th century decks, as most of them now lack many cards. However, the surviving subjects are often consistent with Viéville's design.
But what does this mirror-like effect mean? Assuming that Lyon and Marseille's orientation came first - most subjects of the Cary sheet are oriented as the ones from southern France - we may think that in Paris the first tarots were engraved by copying or tracing onto the printing plates the illustrations of an existing deck. But this is only a guess, and anyway an orientation to the left or to the right does not affect very much the symbolism and moral meaning of the allegories.

ace of Batons: JV (left)
and N.Conver from Marseille (right)

model
è
plate
è  
copies, before and after being coloured

if an edition from southern France (left) had been used as a model for a new printing plate (center),
its positive (right) would have obviously appeared reversed compared to the original



part 2: THE TRUMPS

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

or back to
Introduction
INTRODUCTION
AND HISTORY

Multi-language Glossary
MULTI-LANGUAGE
GLOSSARY
the Fool and the Joker
THE FOOL &
THE JOKER
Index Table
INDEX
TABLE
Regional Games
REGIONAL
GAMES
Playing Card Links
PLAYING CARD
LINKS