Re: The Magician

#41
Thanks for your critique, Debra. I will try to explain better. In the Noblet, Conver, and Vieville, the back right leg (from our perspective) of this four-legged table is mostly obscured by the Bateleur's leg. They are the same color (not a different color), so it gives the table the appearance of instability. If you have a three-legged table where the legs are below three of the vertices of a rectangle, the result is very unstable. It doesn't look like the kind of three-legged table that would be stable, where the legs are under the vertices of an equilateral triangle. Since I used Flornoy's "restoration" of the card instead of the actual card in the Bibliotheque Nationale, I should probably post the original (from http://www.tarot-history.com/Jean-Noble ... eleur.html).

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If you look carefully at the Bateleur's leg (the one on our right), you will see that the direction of the line (on the right) of the legging-material suddenly changes its angle just before we get to the table top. That's might be part of the table leg. In the Conver and Vieville, we don't see any change of angle at all, just a very straight pants-leg. But in all these cases the Bateleur's leg is in front of where the table-leg would be, obstructing our view. We are being played with.

Here is an example of the difference between a four-legged and a three-legged table. I have stuck together parts of two engravings of Mercury and his children, from Florence of 1460-1464. The one on the left is the earlier, looking darker because of the book I got it from, Lambert's Les Premieres Gravures Italiennes, 1998. The other is another version, slightly later (but still before 1465), with the images reversed and slightly changed. I took it from Hind's Early Italian Engravings, 1938. The Bateleur's table corresponds to the one on our left.

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It is images like these that lead me to wonder if the "Bateleur with a four-legged table that looks like three" might be a very old image, seen in the popular trionfi of 1460s Florence, perhaps different from that seen in the elite decks of that time (although we have no image of the Bagatto that I know of from 1460's Florence).

Re: The Magician

#42
I had another thought about the Bateleur's knife, a 15th century chain of associations. The card is often linked iconographically to the "Artisan" card in the so-called "tarocchi of Mantegna." They're both about guys at a table with knives and other tools. That the association was made even back then is suggested by the Schoen Horoscope of 1515 and other contemporary images. Robert O'Neill discusses them at http://www.tarot.com/about-tarot/librar ... ll/bagatto. First he shows a collage of different historical tarotBagattos/Bateleurs/Magicians, his Fig. 1. Then:
Because of the table and the variety of objects, the figures in Fig. 1 resemble images of the artisan or alchemist, such as that found in the 'tarocchi of Mantegna' (2).

Similar images of the artisan also appear in woodblock images of the planets and their children under Mercury (e.g., Hind 1935, Fig 105 ~1470). One such image (3). shows a goldsmith, a doctor performing a dissection and a couple at table with carafe, plates, glasses, balls. An image of the artisan as goldsmith (alchemist?) also appears in stained glass in the Milan Cathedral (Fig. 2, ~1480) where the objects on the table include bowls, tools, and a ring. Contemporary images of the artisan (4) , (5), often bear a distinct resemblance to the early Bagatto card.

Yet another image of the artisan appears in an astrological woodcut of 1515 (Fig. 3). Figure 3 is primarily of interest because the artist, Erhard Schoen, is known to have produced woodcuts for German playing cards. Therefore, it is probably not surprising to find that entire woodcut appears to contain several images that resemble early Tarot images. As a result, we will return to this same woodcut a number of times in future chapters as images that may be related to the emperor, pope, lovers, wheel, hangedman and death all appear in this single nativity calendar. The implied association of the Tarot image with divination may seem tenuous, yet other images of the magician/astrologer/diviner (6) do bear some resemblance to the early Tarot image.
...
These images of the artisan, suggesting associations with alchemy and astrology, show sufficient resemblance to the early Tarot cards that one can argue to an intended association. The status of the artisan as a distinct "estate of man" also seems to fit the other estates represented in later cards. However, it is difficult to argue that the images in Fig. 1 represent an artisan in his workshop, rather than a street entertainer.
I am not reproducing all O'Neill's images, as denoted by the numbers in parentheses without "Fig." next to them; go to the website for them. Fig. 1, as I said, is a composite of various historical tarot-Magician images. His Figure 3 is the artisan image from the Schoen Horoscope: below I reproduce it in the context of the one before it in the Horoscope, a scene of birthing, representing the First House. Schoen's artisan is in the Second House. The right-hand image below is the "Mantegna" artisan.

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Here is his Figure 2, the image in stained glass from 1480. I will get to the image from Hind (usually dated 1938) later.

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To focus on just the "Mantegna" image: what is this Artisan making? He looks more like a cook than an alchemist or a goldsmith, but never mind. Perhaps Schoen was playing it safe. Comparing it to other images of the time, a goldsmith is certainly suggested. In addition to the stained glass, here is a "Children of Mercury." It is not the woodcut referred to by O'Neill (Introduction to a History of Woodcut, fig. 105, dated by Hind at 1470); that one looks German, and I'm more familiar with Italy. This image is an engraving attributed to the Florentine engraver Baldini or his workshop, c. 1460-1464.

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As in the woodcut O'Neill describes, there is a table with a couple eating--although it is two men, and one appears to have a contract. The table is similar to the Bateleur's. For the present I direct you to the lower left-hand corner. That scene clearly has a goldsmith at work. Someone is even examining a pitcher with designs cut in it by a goldsmith.

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To be sure, gold connotes alchemy; there is even a female-looking assistant, like the alchemist's soror. But let's look further.

Further down the table, there is a guy either cutting into a flat plate, used for making engravings, or making a drawing for such a plate, a female nude. Next to him in the picture, but outside, a sculptor is making the form of a clothed woman. His sculpting instrument is not well drawn. Here is another version, done slightly later (but before 1465), a reversed near-copy, but with changes here and there (I showed the two versions of the man on the top floor in an earlier post; I get this one from Hind, Early Italian Engravings]/i] 1938; the other, with more gray, is from Lambert, Les Premieres Graveurs Italiannes1998)

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I include more details because they are interesting: one of the men at the food-table is standing up, like the Bateleur. And then there are the two astronomers, looking very much like the "Charles VI" Stargazers.

Now comes my addition to O'Neill, another interpretation, focusing on the knife. In those days, and for centuries, playing cards were made by chiseling designs into blocks of wood. In the context of the tarot as a series of steps leading to salvation. these images lead me to think of the tarot-cutter as one involved in the making of the spiritual body that lasts after the death of the physical body, soul-making, in other words. That suggests the function of the tarot, and the tarot-maker (or demiurgos, to use the Greek word for "artisan"): to engrave in the mind the steps toward salvation.

In English, the word for someone who carves out of wood, besides "carver," is "chiseler." That word has an interesting double meaning: it also means a cheat, a swindler. Probably it was someone who was thought to remove by slight of hand a few items out of a bag of goods, e.g. potatoes, after it had been weighed and purchased, or who shaved off some of a precious metal after it had been weighed and a price agreed upon. So it has the same double meaning as "magician" and other names for this card. I would really like to know whether there is an equivalent double-meaning in other languages, such as French, German, or Italian.

Re: The Magician

#43
mikeh wrote: In English, the word for someone who carves out of wood, besides "carver," is "chiseler." That word has an interesting double meaning: it also means a cheat, a swindler. Probably it was someone who was thought to remove by slight of hand a few items out of a bag of goods, e.g. potatoes, after it had been weighed and purchased, or who shaved off some of a precious metal after it had been weighed and a price agreed upon. So it has the same double meaning as "magician" and other names for this card. I would really like to know whether there is an equivalent double-meaning in other languages, such as French, German, or Italian.
'Shark' c. late 16th century meaning a villain, one who preys on others (later applied to the fish of same name) transforms into 'sharp' (e.g., card sharp, a cheater) c. 18th century and americanised synonyms chiseler, gouger 19th century.
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: The Magician

#44
Mike, I definitely agree that "we are being played with"--a cunning choice of words!

The question of whether we could know that there is a hidden 4th leg--ugh. It seems such a stretch. Why do it? That the slight curve in the Noblet guy's knee--the curve that might signal a "knee," in fact--is covering up a table leg is unconvincing.

If the artists in any of the 3-legged table decks wanted to insinuate a disguised 4th leg, there are many ways they could do that more effectively. To let us know that we ARE being played with, a missing leg is much more effective. Wonkiness is integral to the image.

Re: The Magician

#45
I haven't a lot of time now, but I think that as the legs are set back quite a bit from the table edges, that this is approximately what you'd see if the magician's table were extended logically (according to the drawing style of the artist/cutter).



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

Re: The Magician

#47
Pen's addition to the card is another trick, in the spirit of a true Bateleur. The perspective is wrong, but never mind. It's wrong on the Chariot, too. Since we can't see the whole table on the card, we can't be sure how many legs it has. We dearly want it to have four, so it will be stable, just like we want the world to be.

Debra wrote
The question of whether we could know that there is a hidden 4th leg--ugh. It seems such a stretch. Why do it? That the slight curve in the Noblet guy's knee--the curve that might signal a "knee," in fact--is covering up a table leg is unconvincing.

If the artists in any of the 3-legged table decks wanted to insinuate a disguised 4th leg, there are many ways they could do that more effectively. To let us know that we ARE being played with, a missing leg is much more effective. Wonkiness is integral to the image.
Yes, you're right; it could just be the bend in his knee. Or not. In any case, the bend isn't that important, since the other decks don't even have that. It is just that the fourth table-leg would naturally be in the vicinity of the man's leg. That's the only insinuation. At first glance the man's leg makes the table look stable. And maybe it is, if the fourth table-leg is there. But maybe it only seems that way, and the table is unstable, given where the other table-legs are, so that the Bateleur can keep it steady only with his own body, if he's lucky. Such is the world.

Looking at the on-line definitions of "wonky," I see how appropriate that word is (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/wonky). (Since it's not a word in general American usage, I had to check.)

I forgot to comment on the last sentence of your previous post:
I am inclined to agree with "the instability of the world of illusion" but not so much that these workingman's playing cards represent the flux of becoming and the repose of being.
Well, for workingpeople, it would be the instability of the world and the repose of the saints and the hereafter. The beauty of these cards is that they can be understood on various levels of intellectual sophistication. For example, 15th century mythological engravings, presumably inexpensive, show a surprising degree of knowledge about classical mythology, more than could be expected from the artisans that produced them. The "Mantegna tarocchi" has specific imagery based on a ca. 1400 manuscript called the Libellus (Levenson et al, Early Italian Engravings from the National Gallery of Art, p. 140, and discussed with pictures on the "Mantegna" thread). The engravers had humanist advisers, and a mixed audience, some of whom appreciated the subtleties and perhaps rewarded the workshops in various ways, if only in the form of lucrative commissions. Tarot cards likewise were not only for workingpeople. The paintings that I have seen of pre-19th century tarot players suggest the gentry, or at least the nouveau gentry. In the 18th century, De Gebelin says he discovered the cards by going to see a "Madame C of H, who had arrived from Germany or Switzerland," and finding her and others playing the game. (http://www.tarotpedia.com/wiki/Du_Jeu_Des_Tarots, Article I). She sounds well off. In the 16th century, Aretino mentions the characters of the tarot in his dialogues; the people dialoguing are indeed working people, but only in that they are prostitutes who cater to rich clients. The story about Casanova's mistress reading the cards is of the same milieu; they knew about the tarot because of the business they sought to attract. I suspect that shops whose work appealed to a high as well as low clientele got patronage and advice accordingly, including from those who wanted to recruit people to the secret societies, when they made cards that served that purpose without being blatant about it.

Re: The Magician

#48
mikeh wrote:
Pen's addition to the card is another trick, in the spirit of a true Bateleur. The perspective is wrong, but never mind. It's wrong on the Chariot, too. Since we can't see the whole table on the card, we can't be sure how many legs it has. We dearly want it to have four, so it will be stable, just like we want the world to be.
No trick intended, Mike.
Image
If you look carefully at the Bateleur's leg (the one on our right), you will see that the direction of the line (on the right) of the legging-material suddenly changes its angle just before we get to the table top. That's might be part of the table leg. In the Conver and Vieville, we don't see any change of angle at all, just a very straight pants-leg. But in all these cases the Bateleur's leg is in front of where the table-leg would be, obstructing our view. We are being played with.
Yes, the perspective on the card is wrong (and my original extended image was made in that spirit), yet not so wrong that a fourth leg could be in front of the Bateleur's leg. In order for a fourth leg to be in that position, some of the visible table top would have to be lost.



In any case, the angle of the table leg would make this impossible, unless you're suggesting that this is more trickery.
It is just that the fourth table-leg would naturally be in the vicinity of the man's leg.
I think the images below prove that it wouldn't, whatever the unseen area of the table top. The artist was simply not that imcompetent.





Whether the argument for a three-legged table has legs or whether the card simply features a forward tilted, rectangular four-legged table, part of which is out of the frame, I guess each will decide for him/herself - hopefully the above images may help a little with that.



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

Re: The Magician

#50
Hi Pen,
Pen wrote:
mikeh wrote:
Pen's addition to the card is another trick, in the spirit of a true Bateleur. The perspective is wrong, but never mind. It's wrong on the Chariot, too. Since we can't see the whole table on the card, we can't be sure how many legs it has. We dearly want it to have four, so it will be stable, just like we want the world to be.
No trick intended, Mike.
Image


If you look carefully at the Bateleur's leg (the one on our right), you will see that the direction of the line (on the right) of the legging-material suddenly changes its angle just before we get to the table top. That's might be part of the table leg. In the Conver and Vieville, we don't see any change of angle at all, just a very straight pants-leg. But in all these cases the Bateleur's leg is in front of where the table-leg would be, obstructing our view. We are being played with.
Yes, the perspective on the card is wrong (and my original extended image was made in that spirit), yet not so wrong that a fourth leg could be in front of the Bateleur's leg. In order for a fourth leg to be in that position, some of the visible table top would have to be lost.

Image


In any case, the angle of the table leg would make this impossible, unless you're suggesting that this is more trickery.
It is just that the fourth table-leg would naturally be in the vicinity of the man's leg.
I think the images below prove that it wouldn't, whatever the unseen area of the table top. The artist was simply not that imcompetent.

Image


Image


Whether the argument for a three-legged table has legs or whether the card simply features a forward tilted, rectangular four-legged table, part of which is out of the frame, I guess each will decide for him/herself - hopefully the above images may help a little with that.

Image


Pen
Beautiful work!

I agree with you completely, that the fourth leg would be have to be out of the picture. Given how far the right of the table (our right) goes, it wouldn't be a very good table any other way. This is true even if the distortion of the image, and allowing for more distortion, is taken into account.
Image

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