The World in Play: Luxury Cards 1430–1540
Metropolitan Museum of Art, 20 jan. 2016 - 136 pagina's
In the late Middle Ages and early modern times, card playing was widely enjoyed at all levels of society. The playing cards in this engaging volume are unique works of art that illuminate the transition from late medieval to early modern Europe, a period of tumultuous social, artistic, economic, and religious change. Included are the most important luxury decks of hand-painted European playing cards that have survived, as well as a selection of hand-colored woodblock cards, engraved cards, and tarot packs. The casts of characters they illustrate range from royals to commoners. Many feature animals such as falcons and hounds, while other portray such diverse objects as acorns, helmets, or coins.
This is the only study of its kind in English and the only one in a generation in any language. The insightful narrative by Timothy B. Husband discusses the significance of playing cards in the secular art of the period and also recounts the varied stories they tell, conjuring the customs and facts of life of the time. Little is known abut the games played with these cards, but as Husband notes: "The playing out of a hand of cards can be seen as a microcosmic reflection of the ever-changing world around us—a world in play—a view that the creators of the cards under discussion here would seem to have shared.