Visconti Tarot - CARDS

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Pack information: 78 cards with booklet

Card dimensions: 70 x 120 mm

Author: Unknown - Restored by A.A. Atanassov

They say: Those who believe that the art of miniature painting disappeared at the end of the Middle Ages couldn't be more wrong. In Eastern Europe this refined technique continues today, so much so that it is still being taught in art schools. Even if miniature painting is more or less confined to monastic centers, there are a few artists who 'modernize' it by producing original works. One of these is Atanas Alexander Atanassov, a brilliant Bulgarian painter to whom Lo Scarabeo has entrusted the difficult task of reproducing what is definitely the most famous deck of miniature cards: the Visconti-Sforza Tarot. Today, the originals are partially housed at the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York, partially at the Accademia Carrara in Bergamo, and partially in the private collection of the Colleoni family of Bergamo.

Staff Review by Brett Almond

The Visconti deck is a really beautiful deck and priced a bit above the average as it has gold leafing style print all over them, highlighting certain aspects and covering large areas of background in the Major Arcana cards, giving them a regal look. The gold doesn't come up well on the card scans but it is reflective just like gold leaf would be and is very sumptuous. Also I'd like to mention that the Minor Arcana cards do not have individual illustrations beyond the number of the appropriate pentacles, cups etc. so this may make them unsuitable for beginners. But I would say it is a great collectors deck and for those who are drawn to these wonderful old images.

Guest Review by Brian Stevenson

The Visconti Tarot cards are the oldest known surviving Tarot cards in existence and so their historical importance is enormous. Almost all the hundreds of different packs of Tarot cards available today are descended from and influenced by the Visconti Tarot.

This pack shows the cards not as they are now, old and faded, but in their original 15th Century splendour. The backgrounds on the major arcana are embossed with rich gold leaf that gives the cards a jewel-like appearance. Most of the figures in the major arcana are fairly static and stately. The Magician is a simple conjurer; The High Priestess is an Abbess; The Hermit is based on Chronos, and carries an hourglass rather than the later addition of a lantern. Some cards have short Latin mottos to emphasise the meaning and all the minor arcana simply show the number of suit elements arranged in a meaningful pattern.

When these cards were painted in the 15th Century, each was a miniature work of art and it is good to see that a very high quality printing process has been used by the publisher to make these cards. It is possible to see the individual brush strokes of the original artist who created these cards. Even if you do not use this pack for Tarot readings, it is worth acquiring these cards for both the artwork and historical importance.

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  • 5
    Good Designs

    Posted by Richard P on 13th May 2008

    The golden parts of the cards are like tinted mirrors, it's slightly magical seeing the reflection of your hands 'in' the cards while shuffling the deck. The gold is also on the minor arcana cards to emphasize certain lines and the court cards also have full gold backgrounds. 4 of the cards were lost many years ago, but the remake designs blend in well with the others. This pack depicts the devil as a horned slender beast and the tower is hit by lightening unlike other visconti packs that have it burning in flames.