Legend has it that Stuart Kaplan, founder of U.S. Games, wanted to produce a tarot deck in the Russian style. He became aware of the fabulous miniature art of Yury Shakov, and commissioned the tarot deck from him. Yury Shakov was one of the foremost miniature artists in the country, famous for his lacquer miniatures, painted Easter Eggs, and flawless depictions of Russian folk and fairy tales. After two years of tireless work, Shakov completed sketches for all of the cards, and painted all of the Major Arcana and the suit of cups. Sadly, he passed away before the deck could be completed. Kaplan did not want the amazing art to go for naught, so the deck was completed by another artist. Who was this other artist? Good question. The name of the other artist was never revealed, and must be considered “Ivan or Ivanka Doe”. One can tell the difference between the cards painted by different artists, but the overall continuity of the deck is good, and all of the images are to be respected for their fine detail and quality.
This stunning 78-card deck reflects not only the superb style and artistic expertise of both artists, but also Yury Shakov’s original interpretations of the tarot, presenting traditional tarot archetypes through the imagery of Russian history and culture. The miniature paintings in vivid colors are set on black fields framed within oval borders, reminiscent of Imperial Fabergé eggs, and the Icons of Russia and Eastern Europe.
About the Primary Artist
Born in Baku, Azerbajian in 1937, Yury Shakov studied art in Moscow and Palekh. His artworks are owned by many private collections and by the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg.
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