Vandenborre Tarot

Vandenborre Tarot, Brussels, c.1780

The Flemish or Belgian Tarot, with Italian suit signs, became a standard design in Belgium during the 18th century. It is a sort of hybrid tarot, and with its cousins the Tarot de Marseille and Tarot de Besançon derives from Italian designs. For some reason the legend “Cartes de Suisses” appears on the ace of Coins.

Above: detail from the ace of coins.

The deck is executed in a vigorous and energetic style with a chequered frame around each card. The trump cards have Roman numerals and are inscribed with French titles. The complete deck contains 78 cards.

See also: Tarot cards by Nicolas Bodet (1743-1751).

Above: facsimile edition of Belgian Tarot published by François-Jean Vandenborre, Brussels (1762-1803).

Several trumps deviate from the tradition: trump II (normally the High Priestess) is depicted as “Le’spagnol · Capitano Eracasse”, a cocky figure from the Commedia dell’arte, and trump V (otherwise the Pope) is “Bacus”, the Roman god of euphoria. Other idiosyncrasies in the deck can be traced back to Italian prototypes. The Fool is number XXII.

Left: inscription from 2 of Cups “POUR CONOISTRE QUE LA PLUS BASSE DE DENIEZ ET DE COUPES ENPORTE LES PLUS HAUTES QUAND AU FAIT DU JEU” reminds players that in Coins and Cups the lower-numbered cards beat the higher ones, suggesting that the deck was intended for playing games rather than divination.

the four aces, Vandenborre Tarot, Brussels, c.1780

Above: the four aces, Vandenborre Tarot, Brussels, c.1780.

  • The Court Cards

    the 16 court cards, Vandenborre Tarot, Brussels, c.1780

    Above: the 16 court cards, Vandenborre Tarot, Brussels, c.1780.

Last Updated April 07, 2019 at 10:20am


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