The Masjutin Tarot
The graphic artist, painter and sculptor Vasily Nikolayevich Masjutin (1884-1955) received his artistic training at the School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture in Moscow, where he studied from 1910 to 1912. He turned to the technique of etching, which he soon mastered earning the well-deserved reputation of being one of the leading Russian etchers of the twentieth century, and made numerous single prints and portfolios such as "The Seven Deadly Sins". Masjutin emigrated via Riga to Berlin in 1922, where he worked until his death especially as a graphic artist.
In the twenties he produced book and magazine covers, portfolios of prints and book illustrations, mostly texts of Russian authors such as Blok, Dostoevsky, Gogol, Leskov, Pushkin, Remizov, Tolstoy and Turgenev (some 40 in all). Moreover Masjutin occasionally designed sets and costumes for the theater, including for Michael Chekhov in Paris.
After the Second World War, Masjutin suffered arrest and detention in special camps in the Soviet zone of Berlin on charges of aiding and abetting the Nazis and having relations with the Ukrainian nationalists. In spite of the fact of his participation in the design of the building of the Soviet embassy on Unter den Linden (late 1940s), his name was removed from Russian art history for many years.
Masjutin attended lectures by Vladimir Shmakov (the author of a classic work on tarot in Russian) sometime around 1916 and as a result of this created a series of tarot paintings. Some commentators also refer to these designs as being coloured etchings printed as an edition. It is clear they were coloured images, whether paintings or prints, but no coloured scans seem to be available. It appears the originals are in the collection of Victor Masyutin Olsufyeva.
These images have become confused with illustrations by an unknown artist to the tarot book by G.O. Mebes issued in Shanghai in 1937. These are by an artist much inferior to Masjutin. You can see these here.
The Masjutin Tarot - probably the first art tarot.
The Mebes (1937) Tarot.
The Kashmir Tarot.
The Chapel at Avenieres.
Projects in progress
Descriptive Database of published tarots. This is initially based on my own collection.
About 1100 items have been entered into the database to date, and I have appointed an art history student to work with me over the coming months to complete the listing. So expect further updates over the next few months.
Descriptive Database of unpublished tarots. In parallel with the descriptive catalogue of published tarots I have been able to find a colleague, Stacy Flinn, here in Scotland, willing to help build a catalogue of unpublished tarot designs. I myself have gathered some hundreds of these over the last years and as some of these are astounding, it would be good to have these in a catalogue which I could eventually place on this website. I will report on progress with this later and post the database onto the web site. I have called on members of the Tarot Collectors Forum to help by sharing information about such unpublished tarots.
Funding through series of private auctions. In order to raise some funding for projects, I am planning a series of auctions of duplicates from my tarot collection. These will be private auctions only open to those who have registered in advance by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org