Tarocchino Arlecchino: Love

Spring is in the air, the time when rosy-cheeked young lovers meet at the Fountain of the Malignant Harlequin Baby to exchange propositions. If all goes well, they will run off together to whack each other with their matching Batons.

This drawing took me the longest of any of the cards so far. Probably because I had to draw not one, not two, but three Harlequin costumes – coloring in those little diamonds takes longer than you might think! You might be surprised to hear, the swapped patterns in the outfits and sticks of the two Lovers was a conscious aesthetic choice, and not just forgetfulness. We have some ribbons and piping coming out, but these are mostly straightforward costumes, with soft shoes and hats.

Initially, I thought to pair Arlecchino with Colombina. However, even before the infamous DC character, there is a precedent for chic female Harlequins – at least if this intrepid 18th century British ballerina has anything to say in the matter. Look at her go!

Mrs Hester Booth, nee Santlow (circa 1690–1773) dressed as a harlequin, attributed to John Ellys / US Public Domain

The Etteilla tradition blends Love with the Pope (the card becomes No. 13 The High Priest, the Pope card itself was replaced with the male Etteilla card, No. 1). The meanings pertain especially to marriage, but possibly partnerships of all kinds, desirable and despicable.

Keywords (translated from Julia Orsini)

Upright: marriage, wedding ring, alliance, meeting, link, nuptials, pledge, promise, oath, intimacy, liaison, assembly, junction, conjunction, copulation, coupling, chain, bondage, discomfort, captivity, servitude

Reversed: union, society, contacts, cohabitation, adultery, incest, alloy, blending, mixing, amalgam, peace, concord, accord, harmony, coexistence, reconciliation, mending, patching things up

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