Tarot in Art | Besancon Tarot

Published by Alison Cross on

Again I have been dusting in the vaults and stumbled upon this jewel lurking in a darkened corridor, the Besancon Tarot.  Reader, there should be a cedilla underneath that ‘c’, but my keyboard won’t let me insert one *ashamed of uncouth keyboard face*

This French Tarot by Guillaume Mann has some interesting omissions – from this image we can see that the King of Cups and Queen of Swords have had their titles removed and also their crowns, thus ensuring that this is a politically astute deck for Revolutionary France!  Better their crowns and titles swiped than their heads 😀

Interesting to see that Major Arcana V is named  Jupiter and not The Pope.  This change wasn’t so much brought about by the Revolutionary attitude towards cutting links with the church as much as it was the church itself having been quite keen on getting rid of the figures of the Popess (Juno) and the Pope (Jupiter) from the deck – it’s not terribly dignified having the Pope as a trump in a card game that was no doubt played in inns and brothels all over Europe and goodness knows what the blessed cardinals thought of the mythical Pope Joan as the Popess!

Created in 1795 in the town of Colmar in Alsace, this particular 78-card deck sold for £2,375.00 in November 2013.  The Besancon Tarot was a fore-runner for the IJJ Swiss


Alison Cross

The Tarot's Court Cards are my specialist area.  They talk to me. Not LITERALLY though ....

2 Comments

Inner Whispers · 14th November 2014 at 11:11 am

Ha ha, I like that the Courts (or was it just those two) lost their crowns, rather than their heads 😉

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