Let's consider the Popess.
I really like this Papesse. There is so much happening in this image that it's hard to focus on any one thing. The book, the key, the crown, the statues, the drapes... where do we begin?
Well, let's start with her crown, in many of the Tarot de Marseille images it's honestly difficult to tell if she is really wearing the "triple crown" of the papacy, or a double crown or even a bishop's mitre. I think I would feel pretty confident is stating that she is indeed wearing the triple crown on the Tarot de Paris. Let's compare her to the Noblet, Dodal and Chosson:
On the Tarot de Paris, she holds a book in her hands as is typical in most images of the Popess, in her other hand she holds a Key which isn't found in the Tarot de Marseille versions of this card. I'm under the impression that the book would probably indicate a "Doctor of Canon Law" and that the key would represent the one of the keys in his insignia, the keys of St Peter. Can anyone tell me if these assumptions are correct? Why not two keys?
The way she holds the book is extremely funny to me. She seems to be balancing it on the arm of her throne and touching it ever so preciously, a very different image than the book in the lap that we commonly see.
The arms on her throne are held up by extremely ornate statues, I find the one on the right particularly curious, is he glancing across at the other statue? Whatever they are, they are fantastic.
Behind the Popess are very ornate drapes, and I love that I can clearly see the hangings. This is exactly what I imagine the curtains behind the Popess "should" look like, but in the Tarot de Marseille the lines seem merely to suggest this. Here, I can see the gathers and ties that make up the drapery that falls on either side, as well as the curtains behind her. It's lovely.
I think my favourite thing on this card though is what, I think, is a pillow under her feet! I think I can see the tassels hanging from the side as well. I've never been sure what the area in front of her was supposed to represent on the Tarot de Marseille. JMD has suggested a few items before, including a spinning wheel which I must say the spokes do remind me of. Now, I wonder if it might actually be a pillow? What do you think?
Now, I don't think we can discuss the Tarot de Paris Popess without mentioning an even earlier card that is strikingly similar: the Catelin Geoffroy, from Lyon, dated 1557:
and for comparison's sake, let's add in the Vievile:
What are your thoughts when comparing these cards?