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Mantegna Tarot

The Mantegna Tarot

Johann Ladenspelder engravings, Cologne ca. 1550
- coloured by Raven

What can be a better way to look at the Renaissance than through the paradigm of a Tarot deck? Therefore I take the chance and introduce *my* Mantegna Tarot on the site - the engravings of the 16th century Cologne artist and printmaker Johann Ladenspelder (1512 - ca. 1580) which I have coloured to my own liking.

I never liked the 'official' Mantegna deck published by Lo Scarabeo because it simply never looked 'authentic' enough for me. Not humble at all I like *mine* much better - and I hope you will enjoy it. (And please: if you copy any of the cards, do give credit and a link back to my site!)

The Mantegna Tarot was first created around 1480 in Italy, however the name 'Tarot of Mantegna' is misleading twice. First it is not a regular Tarot or Tarocchi deck, second there is considerable doubt that it was actually created by Andrea Mantegna. It is not known where and when exactly it was made. There are some hints that it might come from the Venice area, such as the use of the x in 'Doxe' and 'Artixan', and the title of a doge pretty much puts it in the area of either Venice or Genoa. Yet it was apparently widespread - wide enough for Durer to make a few engravings from it and of course wide enough for a Cologne engraver to copy it some 70 years after its birth.

The deck sums up the world of the Renaissance, going from the lowest of man to the highest of the universal powers. It might have been used for educational purposes, for sophisticated entertainment, a cultivated game or all of that combined. The imagery was archaic and we will find a lot of the typical Tarot symbolism therein and perhaps get a better grasp of where the Tarot meanings have derived from - even when the purpose of this section is more to explore the times of the cards and not so much the deck itself.

The Mantegna deck consists of 50 cards in five section of ten each, sorted as follows:

Conditions of Man Apollo and the Muses Liberal Arts

1. Misero - Miserable
2. Fameio - Servant
3. Artixan - Craftsman
4. Merchandante - Merchant
5. Zintilomo- NobleMan
6. Chavalier - Knight
7. Doxe - Doge
8. Re - King
9. Imperator - Emperor
10. Papa - Pope

11. Caliope
12. Urania
13. Terpsicore
14. Erato
15. Polimnia
16. Talia
17. Melpomene
18. Euterpe
19. Clio
20. Apollo

21. Grammatica - Grammar
22. Loica - Logic
23. Rhetorica - Rhetoric
24. Geometria - Geometry
25. Arithmeticha - Arithmetic
26. Musicha - Music
27. Poesia - Poetry
28. Philosofia - Philosophy
29. Astrologia - Astrology
30. Theologia - Theology

Cosmic Principles Firmament of the Universe

31. Iliaco - Genius of the Sun
32. Chronico - Genius of time
33. Cosmico - Genius of the World
34. Temperancia - Temperance
35. Prudencia - Prudence
36. Forteza - Fortitude
37. Iusticia - Justice
38. Charita - Charity
39. Speranza - Hope
40. Fide - Faith

41. Luna - The Moon
42. Mercurio - Mercury
43. Venus
44. Sol - The Sun
45. Marte - Mars
46. Iupiter - Jupiter
47. Saturno - Saturn
48. Octava Spera - Eight Sphere
49. Primo Mobile - Prime Movement
50. Prima Causa - Prime Cause

As of yet we know two versions of the Mantegna Tarot - the socalled E-Series and the socalled S-Series.
This description comes from the letter at the bottom left corner of each card marking its section - so the 10 cards of the 'Conditions of Man' in the deck here on the site all have an 'E' - consequently it is the E-Series, the more beautifully crafted rendition.

So, I hope you will enjoy a walk through the Renaissance - and that you will like the cards. Note the header graphic on the upcoming pages - there is a link to every next card in the upper right corner, just below the top frame goat. Those of you who actually watch all 50 of the cards ( and won't fail to admire the colouring) are eligible for an extra big portion of ice cream... ;)

First card: Misero - The Miserable

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