Representations of a Balding Male Figure: two Partially Comparable Illustrations of the Last Judgement

Introduction

For the purposes of the present article, I refer to a version of the Tarot de Marseille that was published by Jean Noblet circa 1659 [1].

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Iconography - Judgement (Pattern Sheet 1) (Figures 1-3) (Diary of a Fortune-Teller)

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1. The Balding Male Figure That Features in the Illustration That is Printed on the Twentieth Trump Card

In the illustration that is printed on the twentieth trump card (figure 1), a balding male figure stands in a coffin with his back turned to the viewer as the commencement of the Last Judgement is announced by an angel that emerges from a cloud while blowing on a trumpet.

The illustration that is printed on the fifth trump card (figure 2) suggests that the aforesaid figure is a representation of a member of the Catholic clergy.

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2. The Balding Male Figure That Features in an Illustration That is Printed in a Book of Hours

In the illustration that is printed in a book of hours that was published in Langres, France, circa 1465 [2] (figure 3), a balding male figure stands in a grave with his back turned to the viewer as the commencement of the Last Judgement is marked by the appearance of Christ, who sits on a green arch that is suspended in the sky.

The pink objects that are depicted in the clouds are reminiscent of the inverted droplet-shaped objects that are depicted in the illustration that is printed on the twentieth trump card.

For the term book of hours, the editors of the Phillip’s Concise Encyclopedia provide the following definition:

“… [p. 95] Book containing the prescribed order of prayers, rites for the canonical hours, and readings from the Bible. …” [Luck, Steve (Editor) (1997). Philip’s Concise Encyclopedia (First Edition). Michelin House, London: George Philip Limited. ISBN 0-540-06421-1]

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Updates

15 May, 2021 (12:59 CAT)

On the eighth of May, 2021, Jeff, who maintains a blog that is titled, Tarot With Jeff, introduced me to the term tonsure.

The editors of the online Oxford Dictionary of English note that when used as a noun, the aforesaid term could be used in reference to the part of the head of a monk or of a priest that is shaved or in reference to the act of shaving part of the head of a monk or of a priest. The said editors note that the said term, which is borrowed from Latin, is also used as a verb.

Had I been aware of the aforesaid term and of the corresponding practice prior to having written the present article, I would likely have described the relevant figure not as a balding male figure but as a male figure who likely received a tonsure.

I am grateful to Jeff for having made the aforesaid contribution.

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References:

1. Jeu de tarot à enseignes italiennes dit “tarot Noblet”. URL: https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b105109641.item. Retrieved 3 April, 2020.

2. MSG0055. URL: http://corsair.themorgan.org/cgi-bin/Pwebrecon.cgi?BBID=77045. Retrieved 3 April, 2020.

3. Tonsure. URL: https://www.lexico.com/definition/tonsure. Retrieved 15 May, 2021.

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Images:

1. Figure 1: Jeu de tarot à enseignes italiennes dit “tarot Noblet”. URL: https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b105109641.item. Retrieved 3 April 2020.

2. Figure 2: Jeu de tarot à enseignes italiennes dit “tarot Noblet”. URL: https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b105109641.item. Retrieved 3 April 2020.

3. Figure 3: MS G.55 fol. 139v. URL: http://corsair.themorgan.org/cgi-bin/Pwebrecon.cgi?BBID=77045. Retrieved 3 April 2020.

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Copyright © Kevin J W Mellors. All rights reserved.