Compare and Contrast: The Fool

#1
I'd like to re-explore the Compare and Contrast threads like Jean-Michel and I set up years ago on AT. The goal is predominantly to see if a sense of the Tarot de Marseille I and the Tarot de Marseille II can be determined (and indeed, if such classification is valid at all!) by comparing and contrasting the images on several early decks, specifically: The Jacques Vieville Tarot, The Jean Noblet Tarot, The Jean Dodal Tarot, and since the current consensus is that it is the oldest surviving Tarot de Marseille II, the François Chosson Tarot as a representative of this type.

I'll start by presenting The Fool, and then we can discuss details of the images:


The Tarot will lose all its vitality for one who allows himself to be side-tracked by its pedantry. - Aleister Crowley

Re: Compare and Contrast: The Fool

#2
My first impressions when looking at the group is that the Vieville is very different than the others, and out of the others, the Dodal and the Chosson seem very similar in style. On closer examination, some interesting details can be considered.

Vieville:
I'll start by comparing the Vieville. The Vieville is turned in the opposite direction, which is common for the deck, and hardly worth mentioning except to note it this first thread. I'm struck by how different the cap is from the other Fools, He doesn't seem to have any bells on his cap, and it looks like he has animal ears, and perhaps feathers. His stick has a fools head on the end, also with ears. He seems to have one bell on what might be a hood, or might be collar. He seems to have a belt of bells. He wears stockings, which in contrast to the Tarot de Marseille images, do not seem to be falling down at all. He has an animal leaping at him, and almost the entire body of the animal can be seen.

Noblet:
Like the Vieville, the Noblet has a small animal leaping at him, and the animal can be seen in its entirety. It's notable to mention that, while I have sized the cards for easy comparison, the Noblet is shaped very differently than the others, being much shorter, and also wider. Is it perhaps because of these dimensions that the animal can be seen in full view rather than cut off like on the Dodal and Chosson?

Of course, the most striking feature of the Noblet, is that we can clearly see what the animal is leaping at. Yikes! This is one feature that, while I tend to poo-poo iconography that shows up in only one or a few decks, strikes me as perhaps an "original" design element that was (purposefully?) absent from the others. It appears that the leggings have fallen down exposing the Fools genitals, and the animal is leaping towards him to attack him there. Ouch.

The Fool has bells on his belt, but not on his collar, as seen on the Chosson. He also has bells on his hat, one at the top edge, one on the cap point behind him, and it looks like there is a third bell hanging off of his cap and hiding part of the stick on his shoulder. If you look at the Dodal and Chosson, you will see the bell there as well, but on the Dodal there is no reason for the bell at all since the Fool has no bells on his collar, and on the Chosson, there are bells all around his collar, which is completely different than on the Noblet or the Dodal.

The Noblet has a cute head on the top of his walking stick, and his sack post looks a regular stick with a piece of rope tied around it to hold the napsack in place. There is a line (or perhaps two) on the Vieville that is similar to this as well.

Dodal:
The stick on his shoulder ends in what has been called his "spoon", and this can be seen on the Conver as well. Was it intentionally a spoon? or was it originally more similar to the Noblet? There is no top bell on the hat, as seen in the Noblet. As on the Chosson, the animal is cut off, leaping into the frame from off to the side.

Chosson:
The Chosson has an extra area at the top of the card where, on other cards in the deck, a number is added. Because the Fool is unnumbered, the area is left blank. It's interesting to me that, considering that the area is unused, he should choose to have a blank area rather than just continuing with the rest of the hat which obviously must extend beyond the edge of the card.

--

So what does this tell us? I see relationships running through all of these cards. I see the animal in the Vieville and Noblet as fully presented within the frame. I also see a head on a stick, although which stick differs between the two. I see a relationship of the bells between the Noblet and the Dodal, both with a scalloped collar and no bells. I find it interesting that the Dodal has the bell along the stick, that ought to be hanging from part of his hat, but compared to the Noblet, he seems to have lost this strip if he had it originally. Between the Dodal and the Conver, the overall relationship of the elements is strikingly similar, it feels that one was perhaps based off of, if not traced of off the other.

It's important to remember that we have only a few decks out of the many, many different decks that were produced at the time. And even though the Noblet may have been produced in 1650, and the Dodal c.1701, it's possible for the Dodal (or Chosson, or Vieville) to actually be "older" in that the style of the deck is a copy of an older deck.

Out of all of these, I'm struck most by the genitals the Noblet (uh-hum), this seems, to me, such a natural explanation for what the animal is doing in the scene that I'm very inclined to think it might be "original" and to have been avoided by the other decks. Then again, I tend (as you'll see as we explore cards together) to place a lot of faith in Vieville for explaining details found in the other cards. Yet, there's no sign of falling stockings, much less of genitals, and I'm rather surprised by this. While I've seen other people produce impressive images of the Fool's "spoon", I'm inclined to still think it might be a slight mis-drawing of missing a strand of rope when it comes to the Dodal and Chosson. You'll hear me bitch, a lot, about how "sloppy" the Dodal is, and if you look closely you'll notice that the line of one of his butt cheeks is missing.

All in all, I don't think that this card can tell us a lot about the Tarot de Marseille I or Tarot de Marseille II, but I do think that it shows that there are elements that appear and disappear and relationships between the cards that, if we apply ourselves to the study of them, may give us insight into the relationships between decks and perhaps lead us toward developing a "family tree" based on the icongraphic relationships.

I'd really appreciate hearing your opinions on this. It's easy for me to get caught up and not notice things, or get too carried away with my own interpretations giving extra weight where I shouldn't and missing things I should. I really hope that this will be a dialogue rather than a monologue, and look forward to hearing your thoughts on the iconography of these cards.

If there is enough interest, I'd be delighted to see these explorations continue.
The Tarot will lose all its vitality for one who allows himself to be side-tracked by its pedantry. - Aleister Crowley

Re: Compare and Contrast: The Fool

#3
This is fascinating Robert, thanks for these comparisons.

I think it's possible that the missing line for the butt cheek on the Dodal simply broke off, but that straight vertical line directly above the animal's paws is very odd. In fact that whole area is a very strange arrangement of lines and colours in which it's impossible to know what was intended. The similarities between the Dodal and the Chosson are so many that one must surely have been copied directly from the other, yet the fabric folds on the Chosson Fool's right leg are far less convincing that those on the Dodal, although the hands are more competently drawn. And is that a fallen bell on the ground or in the stream between the Chosson Fool's feet?

Could the blank space above the Chosson Fool be due to a workshop practice? Eg., if the basic blocks for all the cards were cut by an apprentice before being drawn on or having the drawings transferred to them.

Historically, I'm not sure that any of the above is in the least helpful, but your observation of the missing/mis-translated? bell on the cap in the Dodal and the Chosson does seem significant. One must surely have been copied directly from the other. It looks to me as though the 'spoon' on the stick is simply a misinterpretation of the crossed cord in the other decks.

The changed text must indicate a crossing of borders - but in which direction, and in which order? It'd be wonderful if you'd make a start on that geographical/chronological map, Robert... (*)

Pen
He's not the Messiah, he's a very naughty boy...

Re: Compare and Contrast: The Fool

#4
Pen wrote:This is fascinating Robert, thanks for these comparisons.
Thanks Pen, I think it is fascinating too, and probably my favourite aspect of studying tarot history is looking at the similarities and differences between decks. I really appreciate your participation and look forward to exploring more cards.
Pen wrote: I think it's possible that the missing line for the butt cheek on the Dodal simply broke off, but that straight vertical line directly above the animal's paws is very odd. In fact that whole area is a very strange arrangement of lines and colours in which it's impossible to know what was intended.
You're right! It is odd isn't it? You're going to hear me comment on how sloppy the Dodal is, a lot. It's particularly frustrating to me because in some ways (which I'll go into later) I think it might be the closest we can come to decks a generation or two before, now lost, such as shown in the Sforza Castle World card. Yet, it's such a careless copy in many ways, and makes me a bit crazy because interesting details are unclear and lines are often confusing. So what was going on here? I don't have hi-res versions of the Dodal, but I do have Flornoy's restoration of this card, this is how he drew the line:

Image


Is the straight line the original butt cheek and then he redrew it with the more pleasing curve? Frankly, that sounds unlike this cardmaker to me. Very odd. Good eye to catch that!!
Pen wrote:The similarities between the Dodal and the Chosson are so many that one must surely have been copied directly from the other, yet the fabric folds on the Chosson Fool's right leg are far less convincing that those on the Dodal, although the hands are more competently drawn. And is that a fallen bell on the ground or in the stream between the Chosson Fool's feet?
I'm working with the theory that the Chosson (Tarot de Marseille II) is a redrawing of the Tarot de Marseille I, with an attempt to "clean it up". The Tarot de Marseille II seems a much more elegant version to me, and it is difficult to say if that lends weight to it being older or younger than the Tarot de Marseille I. We certainly have samples of both crude and elegant decks that predated the Tarot de Marseille. I'm honestly not sure yet, which is why I continue to pursue these types of explorations, to see if a schematic can develop of the relationships and ancestries. I wondered about the "bell" at the bottom of the Chosson as well. It does seem deliberate, doesn't it? Let's see if it is also on the Conver, this is from the "Bi-centennial" by Camoin (from Rom's site, as are the Chosson images: http://tarotchoco.quebecblogue.com/ ), and the Chosson beside it to compare:



It's strange, but I think it looks like a small piece of the "bell" line is there in the Conver. What do you think? Based just on this, it would seem that the bell disappears between the Chosson and the Conver. Very interesting. Another interesting "bell" is one that really shows up in the Conver (if indeed, it is a bell and not something else), on the front of the cap where it crosses the stick. It's very clear in the Chosson and Conver, and I think it is there in the Dodal as well, but not in the Noblet. Again, from the upcoming Flornoy restoration, a detail that shows the circle, but obviously with less clarity.

Image


So, in this case, it's looking like the Conver is clearest, then the Chosson, then the Dodal, although I'm not what it is doing there in the first place? Was it a bell at the end of some part of the Fool's hat?
Pen wrote:Could the blank space above the Chosson Fool be due to a workshop practice? Eg., if the basic blocks for all the cards were cut by an apprentice before being drawn on or having the drawings transferred to them.

That's exactly what I think might be the answer, that the moulds were prepared with room for the titles and numbers prepared and then the images cut inbetween them.
Pen wrote:Historically, I'm not sure that any of the above is in the least helpful, but your observation of the missing/mis-translated? bell on the cap in the Dodal and the Chosson does seem significant. One must surely have been copied directly from the other. It looks to me as though the 'spoon' on the stick is simply a misinterpretation of the crossed cord in the other decks.
It's hard to figure out. :-? As we go through cards, the relationships change and just when I think I've got a working theory, some detail throws it off. I think the critical lesson is to remember that these are just a few of the many dozens (hundreds? thousands?) of versions that were being produced. There was a lot of copying go on, and there is no reason at all to think that any one particular deck is directly copied from another. Instead, I tend to think of them as cousins rather than sons or mothers. But yes, I agree with you, the relationships between the decks are sometimes startling, and it is clear that there are relationships. Is there any doubt that the Conver and the Chosson are related somehow? But how do the Dodal and Noblet fit into this? The Dodal is the tricky one, as it "looks" like the Chosson and Conver, but seems to have details that match the Noblet.
Pen wrote:The changed text must indicate a crossing of borders - but in which direction, and in which order? It'd be wonderful if you'd make a start on that geographical/chronological map, Robert... (*)

Pen
I feel a long way from making a map, but I appreciate the discussions like this because it helps to clarify the relationships. I personally suspect, at this point, that the Tarot de Marseille started in Italy and moved to France. I wouldn't be surprised to find that the Dodal harkens back to a version without numbers or titles in it. That the Dodal is a version where we see the titles and numbers being added to the images. That the Chosson and Conver represent a redrawing, one that seems predominantly based on the Dodal type decks. That the Noblet is also a redrawing, but based on the same sort of deck that the Dodal is based on. And that the Vieville may, in several cases, be the best representation of them all of an evolving version. I'm far from certain, and need a lot more evidence before I could come out and say "This is what I think happened", but to be fair, I state this now as it certainly will influence my perceptions. That said, a fine example of my lack of certainty is this discussion of the "bell" at the front of the Fool. If the Chosson and Conver were based on the Dodal, why is it more clearly defined in the "later" decks? In this case, it would seem that the Conver was the best representation, then the Chosson, and that the Dodal screws it up by not drawing it clearly, and that the Noblet doesn't know it exists.. completely discounting the theory I just suggested.

Clearly... more examination is necessary! ;;)
The Tarot will lose all its vitality for one who allows himself to be side-tracked by its pedantry. - Aleister Crowley

Re: Compare and Contrast: The Fool

#5
I'd like to add the Jean Payen and the Jean-Pierre Payen to this discussion. These decks have long been recognised as close relatives to the Dodal. Jean-MIchel noticed the "I.P" on the Dodal Moon card, which may indeed be a mark left by Jean Payen if he drew the cards used by Dodal in his "For export" version. If this is true, then maybe the Payen decks are actually better representatives than the Dodal, so let's take a look at them and see if we can gain any additional information.

The Jean-Pierre Payen is dated to 1713, the Jean Payen.. is trickier. I think there is evidence that it is from the 1740s, I always get confused on this. Ross has sorted out the history. Anyway, here are the two decks from the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale:

Jean-Pierre Payen and Jean Payen


There are parts of the Dodal that remind me of the Jean-Pierre (I think it is the closest), but there are also things in the Jean Payen that seem to match better. Look at the ground under the Fool, very much like the Jean-Pierre. But look at the legging on the inner thigh of the Fool's right leg: It's misdrawn on the the Jean-Pierre, but is similar on the Dodal and Jean Payen. The lines of the rope with the bag match the Jean Payen on the Dodal, but the Jean-Pierre Payen is different. So it's odd, the Dodal, Jean-Pierre Payen, and Jean Payen are all clearly very closely related, but each one had differences, and the Dodal shares some iconography in common with the Jean-Pierre Payen, and some with the Jean Payen.

Perhaps the most curious item of them all is the additional bell at the top of the Jean-Pierre! Where did this come from? Is it original, and lost on the Dodal and Jean-Pierre Payen? Does it show up on the Chosson and Conver? Is there are relationship to the Noblet? Or was it just an additional that this artist for some reason decided to add in?
:-?
The Tarot will lose all its vitality for one who allows himself to be side-tracked by its pedantry. - Aleister Crowley

Re: Compare and Contrast: The Fool

#6
About the bells on the Fool's hat, Robert.

Noblet doesn't know the front bell, but the others don't know Noblet's back bell. They know a knob on the stick where the bell would be, but it is not attached to the Fool's cap.

The impression of a "front bell" of the Chosson, Dodal, Payen and Conver might be an artifact of the colouring - although Conver looks like there is no necessary relationship between the bauble and the cap, while Dodal (and JP Payen (only?)) draws a line there.
Image

Re: Compare and Contrast: The Fool

#7
I also see very clearly the relationship between Chosson and Conver (bells on collar, loss of back bell in Conver), and that between Noblet (no bells on collar), Dodal, and Payen.

The Noblet (Paris), Dodal (Lyon) and Payen (Avignon-Marseille) "axis" is a very large area, spanning from the extreme south to the extreme north. It would be interesting to look at the Belgian Fools.
Image

Re: Compare and Contrast: The Fool

#8
I thought it might be useful to try to ascertain whether any actual tracing had taken place, so I colour coded the different Fools, sized the width to be as accurate as possible and superimposed them in sets of two (too confusing with three). The results are not conclusive, yet significant parts seem to match exactly if I move a layer up or down - as if the tracing? paper had been shifted during the process. Alternatively, the old block could have been inked up, a print taken and that print transferred immediately to the new block (but then of course the whole image would match).

I hope I'm not straying too far from the point of these comparisons...

Pen

Jean Payen = blue
Jean Pierre Payen = red
Dodal = grey


Also check this thread: viewtopic.php?f=6&t=188 .
He's not the Messiah, he's a very naughty boy...

Re: Compare and Contrast: The Fool

#9
Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote:About the bells on the Fool's hat, Robert.

Noblet doesn't know the front bell, but the others don't know Noblet's back bell. They know a knob on the stick where the bell would be, but it is not attached to the Fool's cap.
Right! Which gives an edge to the Noblet don't you think? There does seem to be a single line on the Payens and Dodal which attach to the bell, also indicating some relationship to Noblet.
Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote:The impression of a "front bell" of the Chosson, Dodal, Payen and Conver might be an artifact of the colouring - although Conver looks like there is no necessary relationship between the bauble and the cap, while Dodal (and JP Payen (only?)) draws a line there.
I'm not sure I understand? Pardon?
Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote:I also see very clearly the relationship between Chosson and Conver (bells on collar, loss of back bell in Conver), and that between Noblet (no bells on collar), Dodal, and Payen.
Yup. I think it is clearer in other cards, but I see the connection between the Noblet, Dodal and Payens as a group, and the Chosson and Conver as a group, which others have referred to as "Tarot de Marseille I" and "Tarot de Marseille II". The Dodal and Payens are interesting because they make a link between the Noblet on one side, and the Chosson/Conver on the other. It's very rare, but it does happen, when the Noblet and the Chosson/Conver agree on a detail that differs from the Dodal/Payens.
Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote:The Noblet (Paris), Dodal (Lyon) and Payen (Avignon-Marseille) "axis" is a very large area, spanning from the extreme south to the extreme north. It would be interesting to look at the Belgian Fools.
I have the Heri (just a blown up version from Kaplan, but the best I have until some ANGEL decides to share the images from the Heri with us). The Heri is, for me, one of the most critical decks. It is the only deck that I know of that shares the same proportions as the Noblet, and it is absolutely related to it, although it is a Besançon, not a Marseille. Here's the Heri and Noblet, I'll look for a Belgian (although I think it would match the Vieville).

The Tarot will lose all its vitality for one who allows himself to be side-tracked by its pedantry. - Aleister Crowley

Re: Compare and Contrast: The Fool

#10
Pen wrote:I thought it might be useful to try to ascertain whether any actual tracing had taken place, so I colour coded the different Fools, sized the width to be as accurate as possible and superimposed them in sets of two (too confusing with three). The results are not conclusive, yet significant parts seem to match exactly if I move a layer up or down - as if the tracing? paper had been shifted during the process. Alternatively, the old block could have been inked up, a print taken and that print transferred immediately to the new block.

I hope I'm not straying too far from the point of these comparisons...

Pen

Jean Payen = blue
Jean Pierre Payen = red
Dodal = grey

This is fascinating. To my eye, the third combination of Jean-Pierre Payen and Jean Dodal is the closest match. Not a surprise really since the actual date of the Dodal is unknown, but generally in that timeframe. I hear it listed as circa 1701-1715, and I'm not sure why? But the Jean-Pierre Payen in 1713 certainly makes sense for being closely related in time to the Dodal.

It's interesting to note as well that the Payens have the title area at the top, like the Chosson/Conver.
The Tarot will lose all its vitality for one who allows himself to be side-tracked by its pedantry. - Aleister Crowley

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