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About the Pictures

I started this site in particular to widen the audience for artwork of an under-rated and little-known period. I love late medieval artwork, and I think a lot of other people will too if they just get to see it. Most of these paintings are in European churches, and very few of us will see them in real life. The pictures have been manipulated in order to make them suitable for this tarot deck, but they are based on the real thing.

Most of the images used are from 1300 - 1500AD, a fascinating period both in history and art. The extensive use of gold leaf at this time, as well as experimentation with perspective and use of light and shadow make for some very beautiful pictures. You can see the first beginnings of the Renaissance - striving for reality rather than the stylised representations typical of the earlier medieval period.

Much of the material I have used here is of a style and period known as International Gothic - although this term is a relatively modern one used to describe that which evolved into what we call the Renaissance. I'm no purist, however, so I've certainly stepped outside the confines of what academics define as International Gothic, if a picture is from the appropriate period and suits the deck.

The cutoff point for me is a stylistic one rather than an actual year - although I have only used work that is over 500 years old. I have avoided more modern (realistic) Renaissance painters even if their work was before 1500AD. That's not to say High Renaissance Art wouldn't make a beautiful tarot deck - just not THIS tarot deck. Also, I like to avoid images that are already familiar to people (such as the work of Bottecelli, Da Vinci and Michelangelo). Part of the joy I get from my collage work is gaining recognition for original artworks that are not widely known but deserve to be.

You can find out more about the International Gothic movement in a fascinating tour at the European Web Gallery of Art:

I've had a site of medieval graphics freebies since I first got online, although the audience there has usually been limited to academics and people with a specific interest in medieval art and culture. I have developed this tarot deck as a vehicle to introduce a wider audience to artwork of the late medieval period.

Most European artwork of the late 14th and early 15th Century was of a religious theme, which is a reflection of the society of the time (or at least, those in society who could afford to commission art). In order to make the images suitable for a whole tarot deck, I have done a considerable amount of digital collage. For this reason, I claim copyright on the images as they appear here. I'm happy to let people use them for non-commercial purposes, but if anyone is thinking of stealing them to sell, beware my wrath!

Speaking of my creation of the cards as new artworks in their own right, I do my collaging digitally. Unlike some collage works including several tarot decks, my collaging style is intended to look as natural as possible. Not that I'm criticising the style of other collagists who deliberately juxtapose elements conspicuously for effect - that's just not what I'm after. To the extent that it's possible when working with sources as diverse as wall-sized textured Frescoes and tiny miniatures from Illuminated Manuscripts, I try to make pictures that look as if they could be original. If I've done the job well enough, you should have to look pretty closely to identify which components have been added, moved or modified. Often for one character I'll use hands and a face from different paintings, matching the skin tones as closely as I can by digital manipulation. Sometimes it involves zooming in to push individual pixels - a very time consuming process, but it allows much more opportunity for fine-tuning than the traditional "blade and glue" technique.

I haven't compressed the pics much, so this site will be very slow for those of you on a poor connection, but it would have defeated my point if I didn't present them in the best quality possible. Gold does not compress well at all.

If you want to see this type of art 'for real' - the Sainsbury Wing of the National Gallery in London is full of stunning pieces. I was in awe. Thank you, Sainsbury's! Or just about any local church or cathedral in Italy... I'm currently trying to collect and collate a database of where all these treasures are located, in preparation for that dream Grand (Golden) Tour....

Oh, and yes - the deck's based on the Rider Waite deck :)

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