The World in Play: Luxury Cards, 1430–1540 at The Cloisters, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, January 20 – April 17, 2016

“Only three decks of European hand-painted playing cards are known to have survived from the late Middle Ages. These include The Cloisters Playing Cards, which will form the core of this small exhibition highlighting one of the more intriguing works of secular art from The Cloisters Collection. Examples of cards from the earliest hand-painted woodblock deck as well as fifteenth-century German engraved cards, north Italian tarot cards of the same period, and the finest deck from the early sixteenth century will complete the display. Collectively, the figures and scenes depicted on these cards reflect changing worldviews during a period of tumultuous social, economic, and religious change, charting the transition from late medieval to early modern Europe.” —  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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Installation view, Romanesque Hall, The Cloisters. Photograph by Corrado Serra for Arts Summary

Stuttgarter Kartenspiel, um 1430, ca. 19,1 x 12,1 cm

Queen of Stags, from The Stuttgart Playing Cards (Das Stuttgarter Kartenspiel). German, Upper Rhineland, ca. 1430. Paper (six layers in pasteboard) with gold ground and opaque paint over pen and ink, 7 ½ × 4 ¾ in. (19.1 × 12.1 cm). Landesmuseum Württemberg, Stuttgart (KK grau 15). Image: © Landesmuseum Württemberg, Stuttgart, photo: H. Zwietasch

Stuttgarter Kartenspiel, um 1430, ca. 19,1 x 12,1 cm

Under Knave of Ducks, from The Stuttgart Playing Cards (Das Stuttgarter Kartenspiel). German, Upper Rhineland, ca. 1430. Paper (six layers in pasteboard) with gold ground and opaque paint over pen and ink, 7 ½ × 4 ¾ in. (19.1 × 12.1 cm). Landesmuseum Württemberg, Stuttgart (KK grau 42). Image: © Landesmuseum Württemberg, Stuttgart, photo: H. Zwietasch

3. 9 of Hounds-300 large

9 of Hounds, from The Courtly Hunt Cards (Das Hofjagdspiel). Workshop of Konrad Witz (active in Basel, 1434–44). German, Upper Rhineland, ca. 1440–45. Paper (pasteboard) with watercolor, opaque paint, and gold over pen and ink, 6 ¼ × 3 ⅞ in. (15.9 × 9.8 cm). Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, Kunstkammer (KK 5032). Image: © Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

4. 5 of Herons-300 large

5 of Herons, from The Courtly Hunt Cards (Das Hofjagdspiel). Workshop of Konrad Witz (active in Basel, 1434–44). German, Upper Rhineland, ca. 1440–45. Paper (pasteboard) with watercolor, opaque paint, and gold over pen and ink, 6 ¼ × 3 ⅞ in. (15.9 × 9.8 cm). Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, Kunstkammer (KK 5053). Image: © Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

5. 4-Trumpeter-of Hungary-300 large

4 (Trumpeter) of Hungary, from The Courtly Household Cards (Das Hofämterspiel). German, Upper Rhineland, ca. 1450. Woodcut on paper (pasteboard) with watercolor, opaque paint, pen and ink, and tooled gold and silver, 5 ½ × 3 15/16 in. (14 × 10 cm). Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, Kunstkammer (KK 5088). Image: © Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

6. 6-Lady-in-Waiting-of France-300 large

6 (Lady-in-Waiting) of France, from The Courtly Household Cards (Das Hofämterspiel). German, Upper Rhineland, ca. 1450. Woodcut on paper (pasteboard) with watercolor, opaque paint, pen and ink, and tooled gold and silver, 5 ½ × 3 15/16 in. (14 × 10 cm). Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, Kunstkammer (KK 5118). Image: © Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

7. Knave of Cups-300 large

Knave of Cups, from The Visconti Tarot. Workshop of Bonifacio Bembo (Italian, active ca. 1442–77; d. before 1482) Italian, Milan, ca. 1450. Paper (pasteboard) with opaque paint on tooled gold ground, 7 ⅜ × 3 ½ in. (18.9 × 9 cm). Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut (ITA 109). Image: © Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven

8. World-300 large

World, from The Visconti Tarot. Workshop of Bonifacio Bembo (Italian, active ca. 1442–77; d. before 1482) Italian, Milan, ca. 1450. Paper (pasteboard) with opaque paint on tooled gold ground, 7 ⅜ × 3 ½ in. (18.9 × 9 cm). Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut (ITA 109). Image: © Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven

9. Knave of Horns-300small

Knave of Horns, from The Cloisters Playing Cards. South Netherlandish, Burgundian territories, ca. 1475–80. Paper (four layers in pasteboard) with pen and ink, opaque paint, glazes, and applied silver and gold, 5 3/16 × 2 ¾ in. (13.2 × 7 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Cloisters Collection, 1983 (1983.515.3). Image: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

10. Queen of Nooses-300small

Queen of Nooses, from The Cloisters Playing Cards. South Netherlandish, Burgundian territories, ca. 1475–80. Paper (four layers in pasteboard) with pen and ink, opaque paint, glazes, and applied silver and gold, 5 3/16 × 2 ¾ in. (13.2 × 7 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Cloisters Collection, 1983 (1983.515.41). Image: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

11. 4 of Leafs-300small

4 of Leafs, from The Playing Cards of Peter Flötner. Peter Flötner (German, Thurgau 1485–1546 Nuremberg). Published by Hans Christoph Zell German, Nuremberg, ca. 1540. Woodcut on paper with watercolor, opaque paint, and gold, 4 ⅛ × 2 ⅜ in. (10.5 × 5.9 cm). Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg (GMN Sp 7418 1–47 Kapsel 516). Image: © Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg, photo: Monika Runge

12. King of Bells-300small

King of Bells, from The Playing Cards of Peter Flötner. Peter Flötner (German, Thurgau 1485–1546 Nuremberg). Published by Hans Christoph Zell German, Nuremberg, ca. 1540. Woodcut on paper with watercolor, opaque paint, and gold, 4 ⅛ × 2 ⅜ in. (10.5 × 5.9 cm). Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg (GMN Sp 7418 1–47 Kapsel 516). Image: © Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg, photo: Monika Runge