Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Cartes de luxe

Major deadlines are looming over me for the next 5 weeks, so I'm going to need to be on hiatus on this blog between now and the 1st of March, and then maybe also a couple of weeks later. We'll see.

So in the meantime, clear the decks, cuz I hope this post suits you—and if you're like me, we're two of a kind, flush with excitement. I'm not playing with a full deck here, though I might just be bluffing. Maybe I'm playing my hand too close to the vest, but trumping some other posts, this material could be used in all the best clubs, enjoyed in spades, setting our hearts afire as much as diamonds are forever. Whether you're king of the hill, queen for a day, or jack of all trades—you people are aces with me . . . so deal with it!

Paul-Émile Bécat was a master of erotica, usually for limited edition books, but here has painted a tour de force that is an erotic limited edition of a deck of playing cards (did you get my subtle hints up above? Was I too subtle?).

Titled le Florentin, the deck is copyrighted 1955 by Éditions Philibert, Paris. Bécat's art and designs are masterful and clever, elevating the status of ephemera.

These miniatures were styled after, and celebrate, famous paintings of Old Masters, and the descriptions we have of the masterpieces destroyed in the Bonfire of the Vanities in 1497—upon order of the monk Savonarola (a despicable deed that included destruction of paintings by Sandro Botticelli). Renaissance history lessons could be planned around these cards.

The Royal Suits, like most playing cards, have images that can rotate, showing properly—top or bottom. I have posted these cards in both directions so that you don't have to turn your computer upside down ;>)

The frontispiece card, above, opens the door to characters shown in the deck.

One of the jokers is the giant jester of the Duke of Mantua, whose main duty was to keep an eye on the 'collection' of dwarves given to his master by the other princes of Europe.

The other joker is a Lady, personifying the Florentine festivities.

The Adventuresses

Allegory of gold

Allegory of Love

The poisoners

The powerful Duke Leonardo, famous for his wealth and his patronage of the arts

the rotated image

Allegory of the soldiers

the rotated image

King Francis I

the rotated image

Bluebeard and his wives

the rotated image

Protecting and encouraging the arts

the rotated image

'La Belle Ferronnière', favorite of King Francis I

the rotated image

The lady and the rose, recurrent them of the Renaissance

the rotated image

Lucrecia Borgia

the rotated image

Leonardo da Vinci, surrounded by the beauties he made immortal

the rotated image

The messenger of love

The rotated image

The lovers of Verona

the rotated image

Machiavelli

the rotated image

The backside of all the cards

Putting this post together was a lot of work, but perhaps it will compel you to come back after my murderous deadline to see many more goodies yet to come.

16 comments:

FMC said...

These are marvelous beyond words. My favorite is probably the lady Joker. Your labors are always deeply appreciated.

Thomas Haller Buchanan said...

I like that—marvelous beyond words. Thank you for your words.

ToB said...

Remarkable - I think the King of Spades is disturbing and the Queen of Hearts kind of jumps out at you. Beautiful cards. I have a vague interest in historical tarot decks; this is another dimension of what cards represent to us. Thanks very much for posting. Beautiful as always.

Larry MacDougall said...

Super job Thomas, thanks so much. I love to see watercolour used in this way. Brilliant !

Annie said...

Hi Thom, I like the rotated image of Messenger of Love the best, and not just because the women are predominantly clothed! I like the composition and the colors, the box with the letters, and the expression in the women's faces.

Thanks for putting in the work; and I hope with your hiatus, your deadlines feel manageable and fun.

Doruk said...

There is something creepy going on with that Queen of Clubs..

Thomas Haller Buchanan said...

You are so right about the Queen of Clubs—for being a protector, she looks rather cruel. Maybe an allegory within an allegory?

Anonymous said...

Good luck with the deadlines. Look forward to seeing more of your wonderful collection next month.

I'll still look every few days in case your willpower slips a bit.

Thomas Haller Buchanan said...

Thank you, and you're absolutely right in thinking that's a possibility.

And I am still posting over on Whirled of Kelly, cuz that stuff is already in the can.

Norman said...

Just to reassure you, we will be here when your deadline has passed. What fools do you take us for? Miss these fantastic posts - you're mad!
Seriously again many thanks for these fantastic scans - such interesting stuff

Blue said...

Very grateful for your aesthetic eye and your generosity in building and sharing this amazing post. Thank you!!

Anita said...

Jesus Christ..what a great blog you have..i must immidiatly put you on my highlights for everyone too see..Great work..all of it..and specially the postings below too!!

Lugh said...

Thank you for posting the entire deck of "Le Florentin". I can now know how the series looks like without purchasing it for an arm & a leg.
Again, thank you.

soLOUtions said...

This is unbelievable -- I just found a deck of these cards amongst some family things. Before I even comment on the paintings, I have to mention the physical quality of the cards themselves. When I picked them up, I had to count the deck, bc I thought for sure they must be pinochle cards or something, bc the 54 cards here (52 + 2 jokers) are much thicker than today's playing cards. The edges are gilded in gold. A beautiful, textural experience.
Since Mr. Buchanan already showed the beauty of the facecards, I just want to mention also how pretty the font is on the numbered cards. It's very elegant. (If you hold the 2 card a certain way, you almost would think it was a 9, a 6, or even a 7! It's not confusing, just classical.)
The Internet is a wonderful font of information -- and people like Mr. Buchanan make it special by writing a blog with such cleverness (LOVED paragraph #2) and by paying attention to such artistic ephemera as these cards. I'd say you have a wining hand.

sway said...

How much does the Paul Emile Bécat ... Le Florentin
Erotic Cards sell for???

Joe Young said...

Excellent work! These have a very rich, antique look and all of them are very innovative. I guess real artists are able to put down what translates from their imagination. I applaud your art.