Depaulis's "Tarot in France before 1500"

Pratesi's Playing Card essay featured on the thread "Germini - Florentine-French Trionfi 1506" (viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1074) now has a follow-up from Thierry Depaulis in the latest issue of that journal, Jan-March 2015 (vol. 44, No. 3). I do not have time currently to translate the whole article (from French), but here is the "English summary" at the end, presumably prepared by Depaulis himself. Later I will give pertinent quotes from the article itself:
English summary: Tarot in France before 1500
Franco Pratesi has recently published some stunning documents pertaining to
Tarot cards in Florence in 1444, 1499 and 1506 (see his article in The Playing-
, Vol. 44, no. 1, July-Sep. 2015). The last date concerns a Florentine cardmaker's
probate inventory, where germini are mentioned (first occurrence!),
and also "1 paio di tr(i)onfi alia franc(i)osa non finiti", that is, a pack of Tarot
cards (trionfi) of French type. This would confirm my own hypothesis about
Tarot being known in Lyon in around 1500. But was the game known in France
before 1500?

We know that a tarot pack was presented to Queen Isabella of Lorraine in
1450, being sent by Jacopo Antonio Marcello, a Venetian patrician and an admirer
of King René of Anjou, Isabella's husband. It is not sure whether Isabella
ever played with these cards, but her grandson René II played triumphe in 1496.
Although the game of Triomphe is well known in France from 1480 on, it has
been suggested that this specific quotation may refer to Tarot.

Another still unpublished source is to be found in the inventory of Louis de
Luxembourg, Count of Saint-Pol, made in 1477. Louis had been found to betray
both the King of France, Louis XI, who had made him his Constable of France
(Commander in Chief of the army), and the Duke of Burgundy, Charles the
Bold. In 1475 Louis de Luxembourg was arrested and sent to Paris, where he
was sentenced to death and beheaded. His furniture was seized by the Duke's
agents at Cambrai and inventoried twice, in 1475 and 1477. In the last inventory
we find "ung jeu de cartes fait en triomphe", which is so close to the Italian
expression "paro di carte da trionfi" (a pack of tarot cards), that we see no other
meaning for the French quotation. Since Louis de Luxembourg had no contact
with Italy, it is likely that his second wife Mary of Savoy, whose sister Bona
of Savoy had married Galeazzo Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan, in 1468 and had
been taught Tarot while there, may have received the pack from Milan.
Two Tarot cards found in the Bibliotheque Nationale in 1985 (and thus not
included in the 'Tarot, jeu et magie' exhibition) were still wanting an attribution.
Looking at them again (they are now digitized and visible in the BnF
Gallica server), I now think they can be French, very probably made in Lyon.
French playing cards seem to have been quite common in Florence as early as
the late 15th century. Several poets, and even Lorenzo de' Medici in 1472, did
praise them.
The essay raises several important issues, but for me the most interesting part had to do with the inventory of 1477, which turned up the item "ung jeu de cartes fait en triomphe", literally "a pack of cards made in triumph". This is not only close to "paro di carte da trionfi", but even perhaps closer to "paro di carte a trionfi". I am thinking of Pratesi's example to me of "vaso a fiori", meaning a vase with pictures of flowers on it, in other words "made in flowers", as opposed to a vase that has flowers in it.

The inventory actually implicates more "of Savoy" women than just Marie and Bona. There was also the person conducting the 1377 inventory, Marguerite of Savoy, who knew what the object was, a cheap tarot deck. All three grew up, at least part of the time, in the milieu of the Savoy court. Depaulis says they are unlikely to have learned tarot there (p. 206).
Pour autant, Marie de Savoie (Turin, 20 mars 1448 - Bohain, aout 1475), fille du duc de Savoie Louis, en dépit du lieu de sa naissance, n'est pas une princesse «italienne». Elevée en Savoie, entre Thonon, Geneve et Chambéry, Marie est imprégnée de culture francaise, encore tres gothique. En outre, le roi Louis XI a fait venir a la cour, des 1463, les soeurs de la reine, Agnes (née en 1445), Marie (née en 1448) et Bonne (née en 1449), puis Marguerite (née en 1439). Elevées a la francaise, Marie de Savoie et ses soeurs devaient tout ignorer du tarot.

(However, Marie of Savoy (Turin, 20 March 1448 - Bohain aout 1475), daughter of Louis Duke of Savoy, despite the place of her birth, is not an "Italian" princess. Raised in Savoy, between Thonon, Geneva and Chambery, Marie is steeped in French culture, still very Gothic. In addition, King Louis XI brought to his court, in 1463, the sisters of the queen, Agnes (born in 1445), Marie (born in 1448), Bonne (born in 1449) and Marguerite (born in 1439 ). Raised in the French manner, Marie of Savoy and her sisters would have been ignorant of the tarot.)
But there was another woman in Savoy who would have known how to play tarot, namely, their aunt, also named Marie of Savoy. She had been in Milan as the wife of Filippo Maria Sforza from 1428 until his death in 1447. At some point, probably very soon, she would have returned to her family. I say "very soon", because the Duke of Savoy, Louis, very soon attacked the Ambrosian Republic by force of arms, with the object of taking it, but was beaten back by the forces of the Republic (see Wikipedia on Louis of Savoy). He seems to have been based in Turin at that point, because that is Marie the younger's birthplace in 1448. He would not have attacked if the older Marie was still there, it seems to me. A Duchess of Milan would have made a good figurehead ruler. Marie lived until 1469. This was time enough not only to teach her niece Bonne, born in 1449, but also her older sisters, Marguerite, born 1439, and Marie, born 1448. It is not excluded that the tarot pack was sent to Maria by Bona, but I see no reason to assume, as Depaulis does, that any of the three would not have been familiar with the game before their marriages. Marie was married to Louis de Luxembourg in 1466 ( ... _Saint-Pol). And before that she had been considered for a marriage to one of the Sforza children, Filippo Maria, betrothed when she was 6. Although that betrothal was annulled, she may have been considered for other Sforza children. That would have been one reason to learn the game. As for Marguerite, she married Pierre de Luxembourg, the son of Louis de Luxembourg, sometime after the death of her first husband, the Marquess of Montferrat, in 1464 (so yes, she is her mother-in-law's older sister). As Depaulis points out, she would have played tarot in Montferrat (a small principality between Savoy and Lombardy), but even before her 1458 marriage she could have learned the game from her aunt, it seems to me.

The once prosperous city of Saint-Pol-sur-Tournois, county seat of Saint-Pol, no longer exists, having been destroyed by Charles V in 1537 ( All that is left is a small town, population 5000 today ( But its location is of interest because it is within about 12 miles of the earliest record, until the new one of 1477, of "triumphe" in France, the one in 1480, which is a directive regarding two nobles arrested in a brawl while playing "triumphe". This took me some dot-connecting between various texts to find out, plus Google Maps.

Depaulis does not say that this event, the brawl, is the one he means, but I do not know what else it could be, for 1480. He assumes it was a game with the ordinary deck (p. 203):
Il a été suggeré que ce triumphe pouvait désigner le tarot. Mais il n'est pas possible d'être affirmatif, car le jeu de triomphe, attesté dans les sources françaises a partir de 1480, connaît une longue serie de citations aux XVIe et XVIIe siècles dont certaines sont assez éclairantes: il s'agit d'un jeu de levées simple, joué le plus souvent à quatre avec des cartes ordinaires. Il serait étonnant que cet emploi de 1496 fasse exception. Mais il est vrai que nous sommes en Lorraine, duché d'Empire, et non en France, oh sont localisées les autres references. Si René II n'a pu connaître sa grand-mère Isabelle de Lorraine, morte en 1453, alors qu il n'avait que deux ans, nous savons qu'il a passe sa jeunesse à la cour de son grand-père Rene d'Anjou, entre Angers et la Provence. La tradition du tarot aurait pu y survivre et lui être transmise. La question reste done un peu en suspens.

(It has been suggested that this triumphe could designate the tarot. But it is not possible to be affirmative, since the the game of triumph, attested in French sources from 1480, knows a long series of quotes in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, some quite illuminating: it is a game of simple raises, played mostly by four with ordinary cards. It would be surprising if this use of 1496 were an exception. But it is true that we are in Lorraine, a Duchy of the Empire, not in France, where the other references are located. If René II could not know his grandmother Isabelle of Lorraine, who died in 1453, when he was only two years old, we know that he spent his youth at the court of his grandfather René d 'Anjou, between Angers and Provence. The tradition of tarot could have survived and been transmitted to him. The question remains therefore a little open.)
But is that one instance of "triumphe" in France of 1480 securely the one that used the ordinary deck? Here is Dummett, 1993 (original and footnotes at viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1019&p=15164&)
The first reference appears in a lettre de rémission (grace of the King for an offense committed) dated 1482 (8); it describes a fight that broke out in the town of Bethune, near Lille, due to a game of triumphe among four members of the aristocracy, one of whom killed another during the altercation (9). Now as far as I know, the word "tarocchi" had not yet been introduced in Italy. ...
On the other hand, the expression "triumphos cum chartis” is found in a statute of Reggio Emilia of 1500 in a context in which reference must be made to the game of Tarot, by analogy with similar ordinances of Salò, Brescia and Bergamo dating back to 14S8, 1489 and 1491. The possibility therefore remains open that the game mentioned in the lettre de rémission was not one that will be later practiced with the name of Triomphe and a normal deck, but a game of Tarot.
However Dummett still leans toward thinking the game near Lille is the one with the ordinary deck. In justification he cites the same 1496 document that Depaulis now leaves "a little open", plus another in 1498, when "the office of the Archdeacon of Paris mentions la triumphe as a prohibited game in Paris". That reference is equally unclear; since it is after the French invasion of Italy, it could be a reaction to the game's new mass popularity; by then, it could also be the Spanish game. After that, of course, there is the new word for tarot.

Bethune, as it happens, is about 30 miles from Lille. But it is a mere 12 miles or so from St.-Pol-sur-Ternoise, which at that point was not legally part of France but obviously controlled by it.

So which game was it, in 1480? One problem is that it is commonly assumed, since Dummett in 1980, that the word "tarot" or "tarocchi" was invented to distinguish the game with the ordinary deck, called "triomphe", from the game with the special cards, which had been called "trionfi" in Italy, and now "triomphe" in Cambrai (another city on the border of Burgundian Flanders, in 1477 temporarily occupied by France). If so, then either the word "tarot" is much older than commonly thought, or there weren't two games called "triumphe" in Bethune. So which was it?

In Italy, the game with ordinary cards was considered Spanish: "Triumpho Ispanico" (Vives, c. 1538, documented by Vitali at Connections between Italy and Spain were rather better than between Italy and France, given that Spain controlled half the country; even so, the name change doesn't appear there until 1505. The game is described in detail by the Spanish writer Maldonado in 1541 ( In England the game is referred to in Hugh Latimer's "sermon on the cards", attested, probably reliably, to be of the year 1529 but not published until 1563 (see viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1050). If the game were in France by 1480, one would expect earlier documentation in England, which then had much interaction with France in precisely this part of the country. Nor would it have gotten to nearby Burgundian Flanders by way of Spain. At the time Flanders was not yet in the ambit of Spain, which started in 1496 with the marriage of Joanna of Castile to Phillip the Handsome of Burgundy (

It is easier to explain the migration to Bethune of tarot than it is of the game with the normal deck. Besides these two Savoy sisters, in communication with a third in Milan, another sister, Agnes, also married into the Northern French aristocracy, in 1466. Her husband was François d'Orléans-Longueville (1447–1491), "Count of Dunois, Tancarville, Longueville, and Montgomery, Baron of Varenguebec, Viscount of Melun, Chamberlain of France, Governor of Normandy and the Dauphiné, Constable and Chamberlain of Normandy" (, under "progeny"). Her husband's position had been created by Charles VII for his father, the "bastard of Orleans", famous as the stalwart companion-at-arms of Joan of Arc. She lived, at least some of the time, in Longueville, which is just north of Rouen, later a famous card-producing city. I cannot find it on Google Maps, but it would probably be about 70 miles from St. Pol.

There was also a fourth Savoy sister in France, Charlotte, born 1441, married at age 9 to the Dauphin of France, later King, against his father's wishes ( The marriage was not consummated then, of course, but she must have been raised in her husband's court, at first in Dauphiné, which is next to Savoy, and then in Flanders, as her first daughter was born in the Chateau of Genappe, Brabant ( Again, there is much opportunity for contact with her family, whether in France, Savoy, or Milan. and ample opportunity for her to have learned to play tarot. She and her husband both died in 1483.

Charlotte connects with the tarot in two other ways. First, she shows up in tracing the two decks that Marcello sent to Isabelle of Lorraine--who didn't live in Lorraine but rather in her husband's homeland of Anjou (Depaulis says she was residing in Saumur at the time). After her death in 1453, Depaulis says, her possessions went to her husband, René I. Upon his death, he willed everything to his cousin Louis XI (p. 202).
René semble avoir hérite les biens d'Isabelle, morte en 1453, puis, René a son tour decide, en 1480, ses collections allérent pour la plupart enrichir celles du roi de France Louis XI, son cousin. Le livret seul a survécu, aujourd'hui dans les collections de la BnF.

(René seems to have inherited the property of Isabella, deceased in 1453, and René decides its turn, in 1480, that his collections would go mostly to enrich those of King Louis XI of France, his cousin. The booklet alone has survived, today in the collections of the BNF.)
Depaulis doubts that Isabelle actually played either game, and that they would have appeared as "artistic curiosities without other utilization", in which the tarot was even considered secondary. However it seems to me that the Michelino at least would have been saved on the basis of its artistic merit, and if so, then likely the other as well. There is also the possibility that Rene II knew the game, based on the 1496 document, learned from Rene I. When the decks got to Louis XI in 1480, assuming they did, he probably would have deferred to his wife, considering their Italian origin and that they were games suitable for women and children. She would have been familiar with the tarot from her family, just as the other sisters would, and probably even known something about the famous Michelino work from her aunt.

From there, Depaulis loses the thread (or perhaps just interest). However the trail can be picked up by means of another connection, at least visually, between Charlotte and tarot that did survive, a painting done c. 1472 in which Charlotte is put with St. Francis adoring the Christ Child ( ... 1&aff=1&r=). There is no dispute about her identity, as she is named in the title of the painting in the inventory of her goods after her death (above website), and her monogram and that of Louis XI are on the back. I expect that this sale was recent, as the part of the painting with Charlotte has only recently appeared on Charlotte's Wikipedia web-page. (Yes, I check it regularly. This is not the first time I have written about her. But it is the first time I have seen the painting there, as opposed to an engraving of her taken from the painting.) It is judged by the expert who has written on the painting, Charles Sterling, to be "school of Savoy".

The association to the tarot is by way of the Goldschmidt cards, specifically the "lady at a kneeler", who might correspond to the Popess (far right below).

She bears an unmistakable likeness to Charlotte in the painting, although looking a bit older. I would observe also that one of the Goldschmidt cards has the arms of the Dauphin and Dauphine itself, a stylized dolphin. Other noble houses also had such arms, to be sure, but the combination of the two is striking. Charlotte before 1461 would have been the Dauphine. The pigment analysis done on the cards in the 1950s by the Doermer Institute also places it near that time: "mid-15th century"; but such analysis gives a lower limit rather than a specific date, given that paints continue to be made and kept after they have been superseded by other paints. There was rapid technical advance in paint at that time; but Savoy, if that is where the deck was painted, perhaps by a foreign artist, was not a center of artistic fashion. The dolphin bears a distinct resemblance to one of the cards of the late "PMB clone" decks, such as the Bartsch and the Rosenthal (assuming it is a true copy of something now lost), as Huck and Phaeded showed us (viewtopic.php?f=11&t=691&p=16391&hilit= ... hal#p16393 and the post before). It seems to me that they were most likely done after 1480, which is when the art historians say that the PMB "second artist" cards were done (the artist, Antonio Cicognara, is one of the few things, when it comes to these decks, they all agree on).

This period was in fact a time of considerable connections between France and Milan. Here is Wikipedia (
Despite his connection by marriage to the royal house of Savoy, Louis XI had continuously courted a strong relationship with the Francesco I Sforza Duke of Milan, who was a traditional enemy of Savoy. As evidence of this growing close relationship between Milan and the King of France, Sforza, the Duke of Milan sent his own son, Galeazzo Maria Sforza at the head of five thousand (5,000) foot and horse soldiers to aid Louis XI in his war against the League of Public Weal in 1465.[43] Recently, differences had arisen between France and Milan, that had cause Milan to seek ways of separating itself from dependence on the French. However, with the downfall of Burgundy in 1476, France was seen in a new light by Milan. Milan now hurriedly scuttered back into its alliance with Louis XI.[40]
Venice, Naples, and the Papal States also entered into favorable relations with Louis. Wikipedia's Footnote 40, like many others in the article, is to a book called Louis XI: The Universal Spider, 1971.

Perhaps the Goldschmidt was done for one of Charlotte's children, either Anne, who was regent for her brother Charles VIII until he attained his majority, or else Charles himself, who was Dauphin until 1483. Either way, Charles would have known about the tarot. That also might explain why, of all the gifts that the city of Florence could have given Charles on the occasion of his rather fearful visit in 1494, it was thought that a handsome illuminated manuscript of Petrarch, including the Trionfi, done originally for Lorenzo de' Medici would be one sure to please him (see viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1060&p=16250; my information comes from Pellegrin, Manuscrits de Petrarque dans les Bibliotheques de France, p. 328f). In that case, the falconer might be Charles the Bold as the Fool wild card (the Burgundy coat of arms has diagonal yellow slashes, although the other way and alternating with blue; see ... rgundy.htm, which says that he "loved hunting"). And Anne of Brittany as the Queen with the castle, representing Brittany, greatly desired by France. As for the card with the bishop (corresponding to the Pope , but the anchor, seen also on the Cary-Yale, also suggests Hope), two of Charlotte's brothers were Archbishops. But there are many problems in dating and interpreting the Goldschmidt.

The painting with Charlotte ended up, until the mid-19th century, in a curious place. The auction house blurb describes how that would have probably happened:
Très probablement resté dans sa descendance, Anne sa fille et Suzanne sa petite fille, installées au château de Bourbon-L'Archambault; ...

(Most likely remaining with her descendants, Anne her daughter and Suzanne her granddaughter, installed at the Château de Bourbon-Archambault;...)
It remained until 1852 or a little earlier (it is first reported, with an engraving of Charlotte, in a book published in 1851). Perhaps Isabelle's cards took the same route. Suzanne, married to the Duke of Bourbon, died without heir ( The castle where the painting hung is the ancestral home of the Bourbon kings, from Henri IV to his son Louis XIV and so on until the bitter end. We know that Louis XIV was not fond of things Italian, tarot in particular. By then the decks would have been forgotten, until someone found the moldy things. It would have been a good time to get rid of them. In any case, they are gone. I see no particular reason to blame Isabelle or Rene.

Anne housed and educated several very powerful women, such as Louise of Savoy and Margaret of Austria. Margaret became the queen of the Spanish Netherlands who is thought to be featured in the famous Flemish painting of a noblewoman holding cards in her hands, all of them pips, while in back of her various men look upset (my interpretation: it is not in the cards that I will marry again). It is possible that one of them was given those cards.

Finally, we must not count out Louis of Savoy's sons as carriers of the tarot to France. Janus (1440-1491) married Helene of Luxembourg (d. 1488), daughter of the decapitated Louis de Luxembourg, another connection to the North of France. They had a child, Louise of Savoy, in 1467. Another son, Jacques, was a close friend of Charles the Bold (Louis XI's enemy) and became Governor of Burgundy in 1473. He continued to serve Burgundy, a losing cause, after Charles' death. But in 1484 he married Marie de Luxembourg, daughter of his sister Marguerite of Savoy (, ... _Saint-Pol), granddaughter of the decapitated Louis de Luxembourg. (He seems to have married his niece! I'm not sure that falls within the rules of consanguinity.) Having lost his own lands, Charles VIII gave him Saint Pol plus other territories, including ones in Flanders (then briefly French).

Another connection to the tarot is that the 1477 inventory was done by Marguerite on behalf of the children of Marie and Louis. Helene de Luxembourg was one of them, as was Pierre II. Or Marguerite might have been allowed to keep the deck herself, to give to her daughter, Marie de Luxembourg. This point is less about the deck and more about how knowledge gets passed down through generations.

In short, we have a series of coincidental overlaps involving the children of the dukes of Savoy and the ruling family of Anjou. It seems to me likely that the tarot deck was in fact used in France in the second half of the 15th century, and considerably before 1500, in this still rather narrow milieu, plus whatever spill-over there would have been from Chambery into neighboring aristocracies (also, in Avignon, some of the Church leaders, if connected with Italy, might have known the game). If it was the army of Charles VIII that popularized the game, it was likely already known and approved by its leader. The wood blocks for "taraux", of Avignon 1505, were destined for a city in Piedmont controlled by Savoy (birthplace of Marguerite of Savoy, coincidentally), thus a likely point of entry--with occasional waits--into Italy for French troops.

Re: Depaulis's "Tarot in France before 1500"

I have done a translation of the relevant parts of the article, in my non-professional way. I will go page by page. Let me know of any errors. Here is the French:

Page 201, ... nter_6.jpg.
Page 202, ... nter_7.jpg.
Page 203, ... nter_8.jpg
Page 204, ... nter_9.jpg
Page 205, ... ter_10.jpg
Page 206, ... ter_11.jpg

'Trionfi alia franciosa finiti e non finiti’ -
The tarot in France before 1500

Franco Pratesi continues to deliver amazing nuggets taken from the archives of Florence. Id itself or on its web page (, where he distills his notes, friend Franco comes to reveal important information about tarot cards in Florence. The first, found in Note No. 4/24, entitled "1440-1450: Florence - Condanne per giochi di carte nei Libri del Giglio" (10/12/2015) (1). He tells us that two of the most ordinary players were punished "per giuchare alle charter trionfi", for playing tarot, in January 1444. It is the second oldest reference to this game in Florence, and one of the first of all in the long list of instances of the tarot in the fifteenth century. And id, nor princes, nor patricians or condottieri, but two men without relief.

Another interesting and surprising find is that of two inventories after the deaths of Florentine card-makers, very brief, which Franco Pratesi collected with the involvement of Böninger Lorenz, who published recently (2). I will not dwell on the first of these inventories, in November 1499, but rather on that of Giovanbattista di Francesco Monaldi, made in December 1506, I recall here the essentials with translation into modern French:
36 paia di germini e tr(i)onfi / 36 jeux de minchiate et de tarot (36 packs of minchiate and tarot)
1 paio di tr(i)onfi alia franc(i)osa non finiti / 1 jeu de tarot a la francaise inachevé (one pack of cards in the French manner unfinished)
117 paia di charte / 117 jeux de cartes (117 packs of cards)
2 mazi di fogli bianchi / 2 tas de feilles blanches (2 stacks of white sheets)
40 chanoni dipinti (4)/ 40 canons peints/ 40 painted canons (4)
26 forme tra grandi e piccole da germini / 26 bois gravés, grands et petits, de minchiate (26 engraved woodblocks, big and small, of minchiate)
più chartoni / cartons en plus (boxes in addition)
Besides the mention, so early, of germini (the old name of minchiate), the most extraordinary, of course, is "paio di tr(i)onfi alla franc(i)osa nonfiniti" -- tarot deck in the French manner unfinished. Franco Pratesi on this subject has brought to mind my own hypotheses made in 2004, about the mention of taraux found in
2. Franco Pratesi, “1499-1506: “Firenze - Nuove informazioni sulle carte fioreantine”, The Playing-Card, vol. 44, n° l, Jul.-Sept. 2015, pp. 61-71.
3. I ignore personal effects.
4. These very likely concern altar cards, cardboard bearing the liturgical texts, often illuminated. To find this is the inventory of a card-maker is not abnormal.


a 1505 notarial deed of Avignon (5). I deduced that since the word was written in French (not in Latin, like the rest of the act, nor in Provence or Italian), it could only come from the "north", that is to say from Lyon. I concluded that the tarot was known in Lyon around 1500.

Were these cards already so common? And would the tarot have been propagated in France, under the name of “triumph”, before 1500? Two small facts are in the files.

Some gifts for Isabelle of Lorraine

It's a well-known story now, thanks to Franco Pratesi and Ross Caldwell (6). I summarize here.

In 1449, Jacopo Antonio Marcello, a Venetian patrician, Provveditore (controller of armies) and faithful friend of King René (7), has succeeded in obtaining for Isabelle of Lorraine, the first wife of René of Anjou , two decks of cards, one of which appears to have been artistic realization of an idea of Filippo Maria Visconti and Marziano da Tortona, developed by 1420 and realized by Michelino da Besozzo, sort of a "proto-tarot", and the other an "ordinary" tarot. made around 1449. A careful reading of the letter accompanying the careful calligraphy (8) teaches us how Marcello has arranged to convey missive, games and "instructions" in November 1449, from Monselice, his villa in the Veneto, to Saumur, where Isabelle resided, in the confidence of Giovanni Cossa, diplomat and military attache in René of Anjou’s service. These two decks and the booklet associated with them were therefore handed to Isabelle in early 1450. René seems to have inherited the property of Isabella, who died in 1453, and René in turn decided, in 1480, that his collections would mostly go to enriching those of King Louis XI of France, his cousin. The booklet alone has survived today in the collections of the BNF. But it remains true that a deck of "triumphs", now lost, was in the hands of Isabelle of Lorraine. Did she play with these cards?

If the pack painted by Michelino da Besozzo was provided with a presentation text due to Marziano da Tortona, the other pack that Marcello also offered was not accompanied by any written rules. Would Giovanni Cossa have taught the practice to Isabelle and those with her? In my opinion both decks sent by Marcello must have appeared as artistic curiosities without other use, the "real" tarot deck additionally appearing secondary.
5. Thierry Depaulis, «Des "cartes communement appelées taraux"». The Playing-Card, vol. 32, n° 5, March-Apr. 2004, p. 199-205 and n° 6, May-June 2004, pp. 244-249.
6. Franco Pratesi, «Italian cards, new discoveries, 10: The earliest tarot pack known».
The Playing-Card, vol. XVIII, n° 1, Aug. 1989, p. 28-32 and n° 2, Nov. 1989, pp. 33-38; Ross Caldwell, «Marziano da Tortona's Tractatus de deificatione XVI heroum», The Playing- Card, vol. 33, n° 1, July-Sept. 2004, p. 50-55, and n° 2, Oct.-Dec. 2004, pp. 111-126.
7. René d Anjou (1409-1480), Duke of Bar and Lorraine, Duke of Anjou, Count of Provence, reigned over Naples from 1435 to 1442. He was expelled by Alfonso of Aragon.
8. BnF, Mss. latin 8745A.


It is noted however that René II (9), grandson of King René, played "au triomphe” [at triumph] at Vezelise (county capital of Vaudémont) in 1496:
Au Roy [René II d'Anjou, lui aussi pretendant au royaume de Naples], le xxixe jour d'avril, pour jouer au triumphe a Vezelise, deux frans. Encor audit seigneur Roy, le premier jour de may pour jouer audit triumphe a Vezelise, deux florins d'or. (10)

(To the King [René II of Anjou, also pretending to have the kingdom of Naples] the 29th day of April, to play at triumphe Vezelise two gold florins. Again to said lord King, the first day of May, to play at said triumph at Vezelise, two gold florins.) (10)
It has been suggested that this triumphe could designate the tarot. It is not possible to be affirmative, since the game of triumph, attested in French sources from 1480, knows a long series of quotes in the 16th and 17th centuries, some quite illuminating: it is a simple game of raises, played mostly in fours with ordinary cards. It would be surprising if the use of 1496 is an exception. But it is true that we are in Lorraine, Duchy of the Empire, not in France, where the other references are located. If Rene II could not know his grandmother Isabelle of Lorraine, deceased in 1453, when he was two years old, we know that he spent his youth at the court of his grandfather René of Anjou between Angers and Provence. The tradition of the tarot could have survive and been transmitted to him. The question remains therefore a little open.

Everything of the Constable of Saint-Pol

Prince Louis of Luxembourg, Count of Saint-Pol (1418-1475), Constable of France, is not one of these "heroes" of whose history France likes to recall the memory. Powerful lord of the north, from a younger branch of the prestigious Luxembourg family that had given kings of Bohemia and German emperors, he built his career between France and Burgundy. But keen on raising the stakes between the two camps, Prince Louis of Luxembourg dealt behind the backs of all. For once in agreement, the King of France and the Duke of Burgundy Charles the Bold, aided by the King of England, decided upon the downfall of one whom, ten years earlier, in 1465, had been appointed Constable of France by Louis XI. The king had even done the kindness, in 1466, to arrange his marriage to his second wife, Marie of Savoy, sister of Queen Charlotte.

Arrested Nov. 19, 1475, in Burgundian territory, at the request of Louis XI, Louis of Luxembourg was soon delivered to the King’s people. Arriving in Paris on the 27th, he was imprisoned in the Bastille, indicted and heard by Parliament in early December. On December 16, 1475, he was sentenced to death and then beheaded three days later at the Place de Greve.
9. René II (1451-1508), Duke of Lorraine from 1473 to his death. He was the son of Ferry II, Count of Vaudémont, and Yolande of Anjou, daughter of King Rene I.
10. Accounts of the court of Lorraine in Henri Lepage, «Recherches sur l’industrie en Lorraine [...]: De la fabrication des cartes a jouer», Memoires de la Société des sciences, lettres et arts de Nancy, 1850 [1851], p. 66; Henri-René D'Allemagne, Les cartes de jouer du XlVe au XXe siecle, II, Paris, 1906, p. 212. ("Research on industry in Lorraine [...] Of the manufacture of playing cards”, Memoirs of the Society of sciences, letters and arts in Nancy, 1850 [1851], p. 66; Henry René D'Allemagne, Playing cards from the 14th to the 20th century, II, Paris, 1906, p. 212.)


Meanwhile, the Duke of Burgundy had ordered the furnishings of the mansion [hôtel] of Saint-Pol at Cambrai to be seized. During the winter of 1475-1476, the "moveable goods" of the Constable - bedsheets and blankets, tablecloths and napkins in great quantities, bags of all kinds, vestments (four complete sets), weapons of war and tournaments, armor, and caparasons [horse coverings] and parade outfits, pieces of silverware, dresses and furs, coats and tops, books, tapestries and a few «tapis velus», [hairy carpets], etc. - were removed from the mansion of Saint-Pol by agents of the Duke of Burgundy, inventoried under the surveillance of a master of the chamber of accounts of Lille, then placed in boxes, baskets and barrels carefully marked with letters.

It was a reckoning without heirs. It is certain that Marie of Savoy, second wife of the Constable, had died, probably in August 1475 during a fatal childbirth. But there were children, seven of a first marriage - from Jeanne de Bar, who died in 1462 - and two of the second. These heirs had filed various appeals in order to gain recognition for the property seized. Now on January 5, 1477, Charles the Bold dies before Nancy. His widow Margaret of York and his daughter (from a previous marriage) Marie of Burgundy made it known they were prepared to return to the children of the Constable the furnishings of Cambrai. A new inventory was made from 16 to 28 March 1477. If the first (that of 1475) is lost, this second document was preserved. Going a bit unnoticed, it is now in the Departmental archives of Doubs, among the Chalon Papers. It was published in 1885 by Jules Gauthier, Doubs archivist (11).

From the first lines of the inventory, it is striking to read:
Une petite layette où il y a ung jeu de cartes fait en triomphe, viii s.

(A little layette where there is a pack of cards made in triumph, 8 s.)
The term “jeu de cartes fait en triomphe” ["pack of cards made in triumph"] cries out. It seems so much to echo the Italian expression paro (12) di carte da trionfi, which designates the tarot in the archives of Florence, Ferrara and Milan, then at Bologna, Siena, Mantua, etc., one is tempted to understand it thus. We do not see any other meaning to give to that expression.

Note that this object is in the company of other trinkets, «en une queue (13) signée par A» [in a queue (13) signed by A] (14). Remember that a layette is a small lightweight wooden box, to keep papers, jewelry, etc., and the currency is that of Artois (14). The list contains twenty articles in question that today would rank as decorative items. For example, there are knives
11. «Inventaire du mobilier de l'hotel du connétable de Saint-Paul & Cambrai (March 1476 [])». Bulletin du Comité des travaux historiques et scientifiques. Archeologie, 1885, p. 24-57. Arch. dép. du Doubs, E 1311.
12. Literally «pair», here in the sense of pack, current in the 15th century.
13. Type of barrel.
14. In the 15th century, the sol of Artois was worth close to the French sol [the sol of Tours]. As in France, there are 12 deniers in a sol, and twenty sols make a pound.


in a sheath, hunting horns in their covers, an impressive «orloge de coeuvre doré» [clock of gilded copper] with a dial of silver «monstrant l'eure» [showing the time] – a «serrure tres soubtille, bien ouvrée, en laquelle [il y] a pluseurs ymages» [very subtle lock, well crafted, in which [there] are many images] (estimated at 36 pounds), «une boitte a porter a cheval, ou il y a aucunes lettres et pappiers» [a box to carry by horse, where are there are letters and papers], etc.

Appraised at 8 sols of Artois, this pack of cards does not represent a huge value: that is the price of a «boitelette d'yvoire a mettre poudre pour le pappier quant on escript» [small box of ivory for putting powder for paper for writing]. To give an idea of the modesty of 8 sols, we will observe that there are few items worth less in he inventory and that for that amount it, there are only que «trois doubliers (grandes nappes doubles), fort usés, liée ensemble» ["three doubliers [large double tablecloths], very worn, linked together"] (No. 97) or «une nappe de liée d'ouvrage de Damas, fort usee»" (a tablecloth with links of damask work) (No. 380). For one sol more, one has hardly more, «un vieux banquier [housse de banc] de soie vermeille» (an old banker [bench cover] of scarlet silk" (No. 61) or «un vieux convertoir (couverture) de serge vermeille, armoyée des armes de monseigneur le comte de Liney [Ligny], lequel est de petite valeur ["an old convertoir [cover] of scarlet serge, decorated with the arms of Bishop Count Liney [Ligny], which is of little value"] (No. 62). That is what is said. One must exceed 10 sols to find any article that is neither old, nor with holes in it, nor "very worn".

How was a tarot deck able to enter the property of Louis of Luxembourg, Count of Saint-Pol? Since it does not appear that the Constable ever took the road of ltaly or even exceeded the Loire, and as the man did not seem particularly attracted by the art and culture of Italy, we are led to think that it cannot be he who brought this pack, nor his first wife Jeanne of Bar, Countess of Marie and Soissons, married in 1435, died in 1462. Despite an Italian mother (14), Louis de Luxembourg lived and fought only in the north of France, between the Seine and the Scheldt. The inventory of 1477 does not include any object that could come from Italy. So there is only one possible explanation: this deck is due to the second wife of the Constable, Marie, married in 1466.

However, Marie of Savoy (Turin, 20 March 1448 - Bohain Aug. 1475), daughter of Louis Duke of Savoy, despite the place of her birth, is not an "Italian" princess. Raised in Savoy, between Thonon, Geneva and Chambery, Marie is steeped in French culture, still very Gothic. In addition, King Louis XI had brought to his court, in 1463, the sisters of the queen, Agnes (born in 1445), Marie (born in 1448), Bonne (born in 1449) and Marguerite (born in 1439). Raised as French, Marie of Savoy and her sisters had no knowledge of the tarot. One is tempted to turn to Bonne [Bona, in Italian] of Savoy, last daughter of Duke Louis, a year younger than her sister Marie, who married Galeazzo Maria Sforza (1444-1476), Duke of Milan in 1468, not too long after. This is perhaps the track that leads us to the tarot of Louis of Luxembourg. Because Milan is one of the earliest homes of the tarot.
14. Marguerite des Baux, i.e. Margherita del Balzo (1394-1469), daughter of Francesco del Balzo, duke of Andria (d. l422).

That Bona, arriving in Milan in July 1468, was soon initiated there in the tarot, one can find proof in the decoration of Pavia Castle that Galeazzo Maria Sforza orders from Bonifacio Bembo, the painter of tarot cards, which he requires to show " illustrissima Madona [this is Bona!], the illustrissima Madona Ysabeta [Elisabetta, sister of Galeazzo Maria] che zoghi [...] ad triumphi ... ", playing tarot (16). It is easy to think that Bona has decided to make known this game to the sister of hers closest in age. The two sisters remained very connected. Diplomatic couriers could convey a tarot deck from Milan to Bohain.

If the path of the "pack of cards made in triumph" can be established in a credible fashion, it remains that the principal of interest, Marie of Savoy, was no longer alive in 1477 to tell appraisers what this so special game was. There was thus someone who knew and was able to name the object accurately. Among those who participated in the inventory, we see one who could have brought the information sought. The «députés et commis d'iceux seigneurs et dame» [deputies and clerks of these lords and lady] are men of the region, just like the experts.

But the final formula, which rules the expenses of the inventory, teaches us that a son of the Constable and a "Madame de Brienne" have come to control the operations. Now "Madame de Brienne" is none other than the wife of Pierre, Count of Brienne, henceforth head of the household, that is, Margaret of Savoy (1439-1483), another sister of Marie (17). Had she received a similar missive from her sister Bona? Or had she simply discovered the tarot with her first husband John IV Palaeologus, Marquis of Monferrat, married in 1458, lost in 1464? She was without doubt the best placed to say what the strange deck of cards was.

If the contrast is great between the tarot offered to Isabelle of Lorraine in 1450, which appears to have been rather precious, and the deck found at Cambrai in 1477, "of little value", that does not allow speaking of a diffusion of the tarot in France before 1500.
16. Evelyn S. Welch, «Galeazzo Maria Sforza and the Gastello di Pavia, 1469», Art Bulletin, 71, n° 3,1989, annexe 1.3, p. 373; Sandrina Bandera, Brera: I tarocchi, il caso e la fortuna, Milan, 1999, p. 17.
17. In marrying the daughter of the Count of Saint-Pol, Marguerite of Savoy thus becomes ... the sister-in-law of her sister and the sister-in-law of her brother-in-law!


End of translation (for now)

That's the end of the parts I discussed earlier, giving reasons for thinking that in fact the tarot probably was diffused in France, at least among the courts of the Savoy siblings in France, six of them, including Queen Charlotte herself.

And as I said before, it seems to me that Marguerite would be the daughter-in-law, in French belle-fille, of her younger sister and also daughter-in-law of her brother-in-law.

Next he argues that the two tarot cards found by Gisele Lambert at the BnF in 1985, which he had dated to the beginning of the 16th century, are probably from Lyon rather than Milan. He also gives references to "French cards" in Italy, as early as 1472 in Florence, 16th century in Ferrara. I notice that the 1472 reference for "cartes francaises" [French cards] is actually to "carte alla francese" [French style cards, according to Franco's translation].

Here are the pages: ... nter_4.jpg, ... ter_13.jpg.

Re: Depaulis's "Tarot in France before 1500"

I have translated the rest of the article. At the end Depaulis quotes from three Italian sources but does not translate the Italian into French. In parentheses, I offer my own translations, such as they are

«'Trionfi alla franciosa'... ma finiti»

In 1985, when the exhibition "Tarot game and magic" was in full swing, two forgotten tarot cards were exhumed by Gisele Lambert, then curator at the Bibliotheque Nationale, responsible for the inventory of the "first Italian engravers." A Hermit and a Queen of Cups, engraved on wood and colored with the help of stencils, acquired at the beginning of the 20th century, waiting their turn at the bottom of a

Box (18). The surprise was total. I soon published these cards, dating them from the end of the 15th century. They are significantly smaller than the painted tarots and measure only 99 x 58 mm. The backs are white.

Attributed, for lack of anything better, to Milan when they were discovered, these two cards might well be, upon reflection, ... French. One thinks of Lyon because of the Queen of Cups, which presents some similarities in the shape of the arm and hand, the treatment of the face, and the veil under the crown, with the queens of Lyon cards. In addition, these cards have blunt borders, no trace of the flap onto the back so typical of Italian cards. With the Donson cards (Ferrara?), they are the only printed tarot cards "complete" and in color for this period.

Are these the trionfi Franciosa discussed in the Florentine inventory?
18. They are now listed BnF, Estampes, RESERVE BOITE FOL-KH-34-(l,,3), and are visible on the server Gallica at the address
19. Thierry Depaulis, «Tarot: nouvelles découvertes a la Bibliotheque Nationale», Nouvelles de I'estampe, n° 80, May 1985, p. 4-5.

French cards in Florence?

It should not be surprising to meet French cards in Florence. Laurenzo De’ Medici was in himself the champion! In a letter of 12 July 1472,he claims:
Dite alia Chiarina che mi mandi due paia di charte alla franzese et datele
all'aportatore. (20)

(Tell Chiarina I am sending two packs of French-style cards and give them to the messenger.)
Aretino, in his dialogue on games (known under the name of “Le carte parlante’ [‘The speaking cards’] has his card-maker, Padovano, say [the translation, except for "tra si fatte nazione", is from, which has more, on the other suits]:
Da che in Italia si giuoca con le carte francesi, chiaretimi (io ve ne supplico)
cio che dinotano, tra si fatte nazioni, i cappari.

(Since in Italy people are playing with French cards, please tell me (I implore you) what, as done between nations, the pikes are.)
Alfonso Pazzi (1509-1555), in an unedited, undated poem published by Franco Pratesi, invites this same Padovano to use the French designs:
lo credo, che tu pensi, Padovano,
D'aver a far sempre picche o mattoni,
In sulle carte, e che noi siam babbioni
Come te, sebben fussi Veneziano;
Noi ti faren veder, ch'ogni Toscano
Ha le sue bizzarie ed invenzioni:
Or lassa dunque andar coppe e bastoni,
E prendi il nuovo tema, che ti diano.

(I believe that you think, Padovano,
Of having to make always spades or tiles [French word for diamonds].
In the cards, and that we are baboons
Like you, even though you were Venetian;
We make you see that every Tuscan
Has his oddities and inventions:
Now let go then of cups and sticks,
And take the new theme, which I give you.)
In Rome, the papal state was importing 'carte da giocare franciose' already in 1480. And in the middle of the 16th century, the inventory of Domenico di Biagio Bacchi, done in 1559, includes 36 dozen packs of "Carte romane fatte a Lion di Francia di Moret " [Roman cards made in Lyon, France by Moret] (21) and five dozen packs of "Carte romanesche larghe fatte a Lion ferute e ligate in carta bianca" [Large Roman-style cards made at Lyon cut and bound (?) in white paper] (25).

Tarot “a la francaise" [in the French manner] in Florence seems therefore not so strange.

End of article, except for the "English summary" quoted earlier.

Now for my (mikeh's) comments.

First, on the cards found by Lambert. Depaulis offers four criteria for distinguishing French from Italian cards.
On pense a Lyon a cause de la dame de coupes qui presente quelques affinités, dans la forme du bras et de la main, le traitement du visage, le voile sous la couronne, avec des reines de cartes lyonnaises. En outre, ces cartes sont a bords francs, sans trace de rabat des dos si typique des cartes italiennes.

(One thinks of Lyon because of the Queen of Cups, which presents some similarities in the shape of the arm and hand, the treatment of the face, and the veil under the crown, with the queens of Lyon cards. In addition, these cards have blunt borders, no trace of the flap of the back so typical of Italian cards.
(1) similarities in the shape of the arm and hand;
(2) treatment of the face;
(3) veil under the crown;
(4) straightforward borders, without trace of the flap of the back

By (4) he means larger borders which can be folded over onto the other side to provide a firm connection between front and back, e.g. ... age-09.JPG.

Depaulis gives no examples of how French cards and not Italian ones fit these criteria. However Gallica does have cards from Lyon of that period, c. 1500 and a little before. They all have French suit symbols.

So let's compare Italian and French samples from around the same time period. First, Italian, two rows of the "Budapest" sheet (Kaplan, vol. 2, p 274), and the Rosenwald Sheet's row of Queens. I do not give the Rosenwald Old Man because he is on crutches, quite different from Lambert's card. I give the Rosenwald Queen only for the profile view of the face. In most tarots, including the Tarot de Marseille, the Queen of Cups is full-face, although still looking at the cup.


The Budapest Queen is similar to Lambert's in the drawing of the arm and hand. Also, alone among the Queens, it has the "veil" on both sides of the head.


The Rosenwald is similar in giving a profile view, but nothing else.

The cups are all somewhat different. In the case of the Old Man, the style of the Budapest and Lambert's is very similar, as well as the fact that both use a cane. This is something carried over from the PMB ( ... rotDET.jpg). The PMB has a pronounced hunched posture; whether it is actually a hunchback I am not sure. In the Budapest, the posture is better; there may be a bulge in his upper back, but it might be either the flow of the coat or a pack on his back. Berti and Vitali in Tarocchi, Arte e Magia give a colored version of the sheet from the Metropolitan Museum:

In this detail Lambert's card is quite unique in having what looks like a green bundle on his back. shaped like a round pyramid of three levels. The only thing comparable is the Cary Sheet's Fool and Magician:


There are no especially wide borders on any of these cards. That there are numbers on the Italian Old Man card and not on Lambert's is not a problem, because the Italian card can simply have derived from a model without the number. Dummett observed that "the designs of the triumphs of the 'Budapest pack' are probably prior to the addition of numerals, considering the awkward way in which the numerals were forced into every available space" (1993, original Italian at viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1019&p=15166) Also, the Cary Sheet didn't have numbers.

So now French cards. Most examples of Queens, at least on Gallica, of that period are standing figures not looking at all like Lambert's, e.g. ... um155.jpeg, ... bnfTop.jpg, ... bnfDET.jpg.

However there was one card-maker, Jean de Dale, given variously as 1480 (Gallica) and c. 1485 (Hoffman, The Playing Card, pl. 45) that at least had them sitting, even if on horses, as well as occasionally in profile.

Here only one of the ladies has the "veil" going down the sides of her crown, although of a different style, and her face, if done in profile, has a certain similarity to that of Lambert's. There is also quite a bit resemblance in the arms and hands. Two other of these Queens are in profile, although they seem older and less attractive than the on with the "veil". In the context of these cards by Dale, there is indeed something French about Lambert's Queen.



So it is at least possible that Depaulis is right. However, there are also similarities with the Budapest/Metropolitan and even the Cary Sheet, in regard to the bundle on the Old Man's back--although neither of these is securely Italian, especially the Cary Sheet. Lambert's cards are clearly proto-Tarot de Marseille, but beyond that It is hard to say, it seems to me, whether it is Northern Italian or somewhere else, not necessarily Lyon--there is also Piedmont/Savoy, of which we know nothing.

I have not much to say about the documentation of "cartes francaises" that Depaulis cites from Northern Italy. The later two clearly refer to cards with French suits. The de' Pazzi poem seems to imply that they are a new phenomenon in Florence of his time, i.e. the second quarter of the 16th century. What the quote from Lorenzo is referring to is unclear to me. It could be cards with French suits, as they are "alla franceza" in a way that cards with Latin suits would not be, at least so clearly. Dummett in 1993 thought that French suit signs were in use starting 1465-1470 (viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1019&p=15133&hilit=Varekamp#p15133). That was based on a dating of the Cloisters Hunting Deck (from the same region as the Savoy siblings) of 1470. It is nowadays given to a little later, c. 1475-1480 (; that is still not far away from the time of Lorenzo's letter. We have no examples of what French suit symbols would have looked like in their previous "Latin" form. It is possible that they resembled the Spanish or Portuguese suit symbols we do know about, and which are noticeably different from Italian suit symbols.

Edit next day: I added detailed views of the faces and arms of the cards and altered my observations slightly.

Re: Depaulis's "Tarot in France before 1500"

mikeh wrote:

In this detail Lambert's card is quite unique in having what looks like a green bundle on his back. shaped like a round pyramid of three levels. The only thing comparable is the Cary Sheet's Fool and Magician:

Not sure about the comparison with the magician, it is a monkey wearing a turban on his back.
Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.
T. S. Eliot

Re: Depaulis's "Tarot in France before 1500"

I know about the monkey. Perhaps I should have mentioned it. But it was the shape that interested me. The two shapes, on the Bagatella and the Matto, are still pyramidal, on three levels, even if on the Bagatella the monkey's body forms one of them (if I am seeing it correctly). in that way they are similar to the card found by Lambert. It seems like a point of contact between this card and the Cary Sheet.

Re: Depaulis's "Tarot in France before 1500"

From the article of Depaulis:
Attributed, for lack of anything better, to Milan when they were discovered, these two cards might well be, upon reflection, ... French. One thinks of Lyon because of the Queen of Cups, which presents some similarities in the shape of the arm and hand, the treatment of the face, and the veil under the crown, with the queens of Lyon cards. In addition, these cards have blunt borders, no trace of the flap onto the back so typical of Italian cards. With the Donson cards (Ferrara?), they are the only printed tarot cards "complete" and in color for this period.
I don't know the terminus "Donson cards" ... are these the Metropolitan/Budapest cards, occasionally called Dick Tarot ?
At Kaplan 2, p. 283, I find "Theodore B. Donson collection", which has 7 cards, not really "complete", but complete with the picture of others sources more or less.

The link to the pictures was transferred with errors. Here's the right ...

Larger image: ... f1.highres

Larger image ... f3.highres

Re: Depaulis's "Tarot in France before 1500"

Huck wrote,
I don't know the terminus "Donson cards" ... are these the Metropolitan/Budapest cards, occasionally called Dick Tarot ?
At Kaplan 2, p. 283, I find "Theodore B. Donson collection", which has 7 cards, not really "complete", but complete with the picture of others sources more or less.

The link to the pictures was transferred with errors. Here's the right ...
Thanks for the correct link to the Gallica images. I will correct my transcription.

I was wondering about "Donson cards", too. He might mean that the the 7 cards of the "Theodore B. Donson collection" are the only cards in color that are not in a sheet but given to us as actual cards. The "Dick" sheet is in color, but is not in the form of actual cards, as sold to the public. Otherwise I don't know what he means.

Re: Depaulis's "Tarot in France before 1500"

Another issue having to do with tarot in France before 1500 is of course the origin of the Cary Sheet. Although found in Milan and perhaps even of Milanese manufacture, the question remains open of where certain details on the cards come from. Many can be seen in the PMB, but there may be a few that suggest French or Burgundian origin. Ross once suggested the shoes on the Bagat, although people did find Italian examples (I would like to re-read it, actually, but I can't seem to find it; aded later: ah yes, in the Exhibition Gallery, at viewtopic.php?f=14&t=566). I am wondering about another detail, namely, the little circles on the Tower card (then called "Fire" or "Arrow," referring to lightning-bolts). Of course hail fell in Italy as well as France, and circles are a natural way of portraying it, but there is the question of whether and where that was associated with destruction from on high in pictorial art before the Cary Sheet. If anywhere, I would expect them in art depicting the Apocalypse, based on the account of hail and fire falling from the sky. But I do not see little circles of hail in Italian art befoer 1500--in fact, I don't see them at all in Italian art. They are fairly rare, at least in surviving examples. Looking on Google Images for medieval images of hail, only three showed up. One is in a c. 1350 Anglo-Norman century book on the apocalypse from 14th century France that I posted earlier, e.g. at viewtopic.php?f=12&t=172&start=40#p14659.

Another is a Jewish manuscript of 14th century Catalonia, on ... dah-part-i, showing the Lord's plague of hail against Pharaoh: ... /Hail1.jpg. I doubt if that would have come to the attention of Christian artists, but you never know.

A third is a c. 1450-1470 French manuscript called "Livre de la Vigne nostre Seigneur, "The book of our Lord’s vineyard", at ... -Seigneur- (although my image comes from Pinterest)

So at first blush it looks like a French motif, perhaps even one from the area where some of the Savoy siblings lived, Normandy. Any others, before 1500?

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