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I went to visit my daughter in Los Angeles and for the first time saw the exhibits at the J. Paul Getty Museum. While the collection on view is small, there were quite a few pieces from Renaissance Italy. It’s always astounding to me how much of the art from that period portrays images similar to those in the tarot. Judge for yourself:

The Hermit – circa 1510 century earthenware jar. Also similar to the RWS 5 of Pentacles.

The World – 15th century missal

The Tower – circa 1525 earthenware platter

Judgment – 15th century painting (here a saint carries the flag with the red cross rather than it hanging from the trumpet blown by an angel)

The RWS 4 of Cups – circa 1535 earthenware platter

This is not a Major Arcana image but rather is similar to the man under the tree in the RWS 4 of Cups created in 1909. The description card says: “The young man in the center is bound to a tree. This image, popular in Italy in the 1500s, is an allegory of love, depicted as a bittersweet force that holds its victims captive.”


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Mary K. Greer has made tarot her life work. Check here for reports of goings-on in the world of tarot and cartomancy, articles on the history and practice of tarot, and materials on other cartomancy decks. Sorry, I no longer write reviews. Contact me HERE.

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