Tarot de Marseille iconography

#1
Hello!
I am new to this group, thank you for accepting me.
I have an interested in the iconography of the tarots de Marseille and I would like to know who are the major researchers in this field. Also, do you know what are the major publications about this subject and where I can access them? Are there specialized magazines for examples where scholars usually write?
I would like to do a little research myself, but I would like to know what has already been discovered.
Thank you!
Monica

Re: Tarot de Marseille iconography

#3
Monica73 wrote:
22 Aug 2020, 02:01
Hello!
I am new to this group, thank you for accepting me.
I have an interested in the iconography of the tarots de Marseille and I would like to know who are the major researchers in this field. Also, do you know what are the major publications about this subject and where I can access them? Are there specialized magazines for examples where scholars usually write?
I would like to do a little research myself, but I would like to know what has already been discovered.
Thank you!
Monica
Welcome to the forum, Monica! I hope we can be of help in your researches.

Amplifying what Huck said, Yves Renaud (Marseille) creates facsimiles of many of the earliest Tarots de Marseille, and he knows the iconography. He has not published an "interpretation" of it, though. Huck will be able to give you links to various pages at the vast website trionfi.com, many of which concern iconography.

The situation of the history and iconography of playing cards, including Tarot of course, is that it is entirely amateur. There is no learned body with university departments, journals, conferences, etc. Everybody that studies in this subject comes from other disciplines, or no discipline at all. Therefore the information you find will be of vastly different degrees of quality.

The only international journal specifically devoted to playing cards is The Playing-Card, published by the International Playing-Card Society since 1972.

The International Playing-Card Society (IPCS).
https://www.i-p-c-s.org/

There is an annual conference (cancelled this year of course), and articles on Tarot (history, iconography, and the games) are published regularly in The Playing Card.. Almost every universally acknowledged expert in Tarot history and iconography is a member of the IPCS.

This society was founded by collectors of cards who, because they wanted to know about their cards, had to become historians of the subject. The first book that established the classification of playing cards (the basis for any "scientific" or at least disciplined investigation of the subject) was written by one of the founders of the IPCS, Sylvia Mann (1924-1994), Collecting Playing Cards (1966). There are few other specialists in this field, although one name you might have heard of is (Sir) Michael Dummett (1925-2011), professor of logic at Oxford. In addition to his philosophical work, he loved card games, and with Sylvia Mann and a few others, founded the International Playing Card Society in 1972. Their journal, The Playing-Card, is where much of the specialist articles on this subject have been published, in addition to catalogues of exhibitions and scattered other places. In 1980, Michael Dummett published The Game of Tarot. From Ferrara to Salt Lake City (Duckworth), an exhaustive history of not only Tarot and the games played with it, but also on the origins of playing cards themselves. This work remains the foundation of the “field,” inasmuch as we are one. Because of the mythology surrounding the Tarot pack, and the clarity of mind required to study it, nobody had been able to clear the way before, and, in the same way that Whitehead characterised Western Philosophy as “footnotes to Plato,” to this day everything we have done is footnotes to Dummett. Except for one case, for which we can now add an entire chapter (instead of Ferrara (or Milan), the game was probably invented in Florence).

After Michael Dummett, for the history of Tarot the other major you will want to read is Thierry Depaulis (Paris). The following two papers, "The Tarot de Marseille: Facts and Fallacies," are the absolute basis for classification of this family of Tarot cards, and thereby their iconography.

https://www.academia.edu/8119804/Thierr ... ies_Part_I
https://www.academia.edu/8119803/Thierr ... es_Part_II

Depaulis' classification of the Tarot de Marseille family into "Tarot de Marseille I" and "Tarot de Marseille II," has become standard terminology.

Depaulis is prolific in all areas of the history of "jeux de société," but he has a particular interest in the history of Tarot, so it is useful to scroll through the many papers he has made available at academia.org for things you might be interested in, in English and French. In 2013 he published the book Le Tarot révélé. Une histoire du tarot d'après les documents. This is the best history of Tarot in general in book form to this date.

For iconography, the first book to explore it systematically from a historical perspective was Gertrude Moakley, The Tarot Cards painted by Bonifacio Bembo for the Visconti-Sforza family: An iconographic and historical study, 1966. (out of print). She focused on the 15th century cards, but many of her remarks apply equally to the other families of Tarots. Moakley wrote before the systematization of the field, but she corresponded with Erwin Panofsky, so her work falls into the tradition of the Warburg school. That is, it is very sound art history.

For iconography in general, as well as historical investigation (with great focus on Italian Tarocchi) one of the most extensive is Andrea Vitali (Faenza), who makes many of his studies available at "Le Tarot" Associazione culturale:

http://www.associazioneletarot.it/page.aspx?id=5
Scroll down to “Saggi Iconologici sui Trionfi di Andrea Vitali“

There are others, but these should keep you busy. The important thing to remember is that there is no central or even dominant school of interpretation for the Tarot de Marseille imagery specifically. The advice caveat emptor is invaluable for navigating what you find online and in print. The two papers by Thierry Depaulis I have linked at the top will give you the absolute basis in history to begin doing your own investigations of the iconography, however.
Image

Re: Tarot de Marseille iconography

#4
For the origin and meaning of the suit signs (which includes those of the Tarot de Marseille, the "Latin suits" (because shared by Italy, Spain, Portugal, and southern French traditional cards) - Swords, Cups, Batons/Clubs, Coins - , I wholeheartedly recommend Ben Hoshour's just published Origins of the Minor Arcana: A Guidebook to the Ancestral Influences that Shaped the Tarot's Minor Arcana (IngramSpark, 2020).

Despite the title, it is not an occultist reading of the suit signs at all. "Minor arcana" is just an alternative to the somewhat misleading "pips," and will catch the eyes of those interested in Tarot, the book's intended audience.

There is a Facebook group specifically dedicated to Tarot de Marseille study, called of course "Tarot de Marseille." The discussion mostly focusses on iconography.

There is also a Facebook group that I run, called "Tarot History." Many experts (including Yves Renaud) are there, and the discussion is frequently on Tarot de Marseille iconography. Facebook's format is not the best for academic discussions of Tarot history, but it is a way to quickly present iconographical arguments.
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Re: Tarot de Marseille iconography

#5
Thank you so so much for all the information provided, I now surely have enough materials to start with! It is all quite new for me, but I find it extremely interesting.

I do have a few of Yves Reynaud decks and they are my favourites. I especially like the tarots the Marseille type I and I am slowly trying to collect the best facsimiles. When I am able to travel I will also surely do some trips to see the original cards in the museums.

Thank you again very much!

Monica

Re: Tarot de Marseille iconography

#6
Hi Monica,
Most books on the Tarot de Marseille are written by Europeans and have not been translated into English. There is, however, a new book available in the U.S. that does cover this topic in depth. it is The Tarot: A Strange and Wondrous Thing. If you google that title you will find a website that pictures it and allows you to read 7 complete pages. This book was extensively reviewed by Sherryl E. Smith on her site: Tarot-heritage.com
Best wishes,
Marcei

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