dodal and payen = same engraver ?

Le Marseillais

Hello all,

Some fresh news from Marseilles and France.
I discovered very recently that an engraver coming from Lyon City (Lyon is place where Dodal deck cames from) had an Employement Contract with a Tarot cardmaker named... Payen located in Avignon. Appropriate period of time of course.
I reminds you that Engravers where free men going from town to town and working for various Cardmakers.
As Dodal and Payen decks are quite similars, it would not surprised me if same man made woodblocks in Payen and Dodal workshops.

What is behind the curtain of time :) ?

A suivre/to be continued

Yves Le Marseillais


That the Dodal and the Payen were likely carved by the same hand is not news, but your find of a contract of a Lyon-based carver with Payen is (at least to me), and would be interested in more details.

For the sake of interest, I wrote the August 2005 Newsletter for the ATS (No 32 - 'A closer look at one of the Marseille decks') in which I show not only the iconographic similarity between the Dodal and Payen, but also that the Dodal has internal details that indicate that Payen is the likely source. Therein, I write:
"The Payen and the Dodal decks are so similar that a number amongst those interested have suggested that they were carved by the same hand, or at least in the same workshop. As far as I am aware, Jean-Claude Flornoy was the first to put this in print in quite precise terms. When Robert Mealing and I looked at the decks, however, what became apparent is that even more precise information could be suggested: Jean Payen was very likely, I would claim, the person whose workshop designed the Jean Dodal."​
...and then of course continue to explain why this suggestion is made.


I don't know if this affects the theories here, but you might consider that cutters were very often not artists.

The artist creates a design, and does an ink drawing. (At this point, the content of the image is determined.)

The engraver takes the drawing, literally glues it to the block, and precisely cuts away all of the white space, right through the original paper, leaving the image as the raised, printable surface on the wood. (It looks pretty much exactly as the artist drew it.)

The iconography and drawing is determined by the artist.
Only some characteristics of the linework may be determined by the engraver.
And works by one engraver, working with two different artists, can look very different.

Le Marseillais

Dodal versus Payen

Hello JMD, One Potatoe and all,

Here in France it is 6h30 AM so I am on the way to my work.
But later I will give more details.

In fact, I thought that Lyon (so Dodal) could have more been the source rahter than Avignon (Payen) because of his location very close to Swiss, and so Northern italy. And also because his much higher number of Tarot cards makers du to his history.
Lyon is historicly a place were printing technology was early developed.
Due probably to his proximity with Germany for exemple. See Guttemberg.
Payen as cardmaker was not alone in Avignon but his collegues were in poor number comparing to such a big city like Lyon. or Paris.
And marseilles was also poor in number of cardmakers if we compars with Paris or Lyon.
But quantity is not quality and a creator has no bounder or even nationality.

Was Mr Payen or Mr Dodal the real artist who guided hands of the engravor ?

I am not sure knowing that some (not all of course) cardmakers only duplicated woodblocks made by others. See J. Jerger and what made Renault, Blanche ect...

I go now to my Breakfast

Have a nice day (or night regarding your location)

Yves Le Marseillais


Jean Payen is earlier than Dodal, and Jean-Pierre Payen later. It's also of course interesting that J. Payen moved to Avignon from Marseille.

I too at one stage looked at Lyons specifically due to its early paper and cardboard making facilities... but the trail did not unveil much to my rather poor investigations.