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Creator Nationality: European; Netherlandish
Creator Name-CRT: South Netherlandish
Title: Set of Fifty-Two Playing Cards
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1470
Creation End Date: 1480
Creation Date: ca. 1470-1480
Object Type: Books
Classification Term: Manuscripts & Illuminations
Materials and Techniques: Pasteboard with pen and ink, tempera, applied gold and silver
Dimensions: Each 4 3/4 x 2 3/4 in. (12 x 7 cm)
AMICA Contributor: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 1983.515.1-52
Credit Line: The Cloisters Collection, 1983
The Cloisters set of fifty-two cards constitutes the only known complete deck of illuminated ordinary playing cards (as opposed to tarot cards) from the fifteenth century. There are four suits, each consisting of a king, a queen, a knave, and ten pip cards. The suit symbols, based on equipment associated with the hunt, are hunting horns, dog collars, hound tethers, and game nooses. The value of the pip cards is indicated by appropriate repetitions of the suit symbol. The figures, which appear to be based on Franco-Flemish models, were drawn with a bold, free, and engaging, if somewhat unrefined, hand. Their exaggerated and sometimes anachronistic costumes suggest a lampoon of extravagant Burgundian court fashions. Although some period card games are named, it is not known how they were played. Almost all card games did, however, involve some form of gambling. The condition of the set indicates that the cards were hardly used, if at all. It is possible that they were conceived as a collector's curiosity rather than as a deck for play.
AMICA ID: MMA_.1983.515.1-52
AMICA Library Year: 2000
Media Metadata Rights:
Copyright The Metropolitan Museum of Art
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