Celebrating my website’s tenth anniversary: 174 blog articles and 42 website pages on tarot history, reading with non-scenic pips, and decks of historic significance. Throughout the summer, I’m going to group the most useful articles by topic and send out links in a series of blog posts.
Today I’m listing everything I’ve written about the soprafino style. Originating in Milan in the 1830s, it has been reproduced by many publishers down to Lo Scarabeo’s current mass market version. Printers have borrowed random details from the style, especially in Piedmont. See reviews of those decks listed in last week’s blog post on Piedmont decks.
Some of the most beautiful Tarot decks I’ve ever seen emerged from nineteenth-century Piedmont. Giordano Berti has been producing limited editions of these precious but forgotten decks for several years. His most recent deck in the series is the Corband Tarocchi based on Carlo Della Rocca’s soprafino tarot. Della Rocca died in 1835, but enjoyed an afterlife later in the century when piemontese printers like Corband and the Avondo Brothers produced knock-offs of his beautifully engraved deck.
When I saw this print on the Hyperallergic art blog, I immediately thought it must have been the inspiration for the Soprafino Death card (see below). The artist’s palette caught my eye first. Then I noticed so many other items the two images have in common: gold chains, a medallion, bishop’s hat, armor, a spear point and crown. I think I see the spine of a book near the far right edge of the print. The book isn’t nearly as prominent as on the card, but the stone tablet on the print sits in nearly the same location and tilted at the same angle as the Soprafino book. Read more
In 1998, Il Meneghello printed 300 of these lovely decks. Arnell Ando has purchasing information on her website for the few remaining decks (link below).
The soprafino deck engraved by Carlo Della Rocca @1835 appears to be draw in pencil, creating images that are soft, delicate and refined. According to Cristina Dorsini, Il Meneghello’s art director, these cards are reprints of Della Rocca’s original engravings.
The women, and many of the beardless men, have rather sweet, bland expressions; while the mature men have stronger, and more varied facial expressions. Read more