Keane: the playing cards paintings – v 3.0

Keane: the playing cards paintings

All paintings are oil paint, charcoal, acrylic, spray paint, chalk, marker pen on mixed media 60 cms x 100 cms . The rest of the series of paintings based around details of images from playing cards can be seen here

The exhibition in the Palazzo Pancrazi in Barga Vecchia opened this afternoon with the tape being cut by Mario Puppa – Consigliere Regionale della Toscana and Caterina Campani, the Mayor of Barga.

The exhibition is open from 10 am each morning until 10 pm, seven days a week until the end of this month.



Playing cards appeared in Italy in the second half of the 14th century; their presence seems to have been attested in Florence since 1377. The playing cards of Italy have many regional variations, both in the insignia and graphic aspect of the cards and in their number.

The Italian ‘Piacentine’ pattern has Italo-Spanish suit symbols and slightly narrow, elongated cards.

As Latin-suited cards, Italian and Spanish suited cards use swords (spade), cups (coppe), coins (denari), and clubs (bastoni). All Italian suited decks have three face cards per suit: the fante (Knave), cavallo (Knight), and re (King)

It was made in single-ended format until around the mid-20th century after which time double-ended versions are more usual. When this happens some features of the old cards are lost.

The Ace of Coins used to bear the tax stamp, and shows a single-headed, crowned eagle (as opposed to the Neapolitan double-headed eagle). Cards of Spanish design occur in those parts of Italy formerly under Spanish influence (Neapolitan, Piacentine, Romagnole, Sardinian and Sicilian patterns) although the ‘pintas’ or line-breaks in the outer frames have been lost.

Early examples of the Piacentine pattern also have features related to French Aluette cards. – source

The regional styles of north-western Italy use the French suits of Hearts (cuori), Diamonds (quadri, literally “squares”), Spades (picche, “pikes”) and Clubs (fiori, literally “flowers”).

They differ from French or international standard decks in that they generally don’t have numbered side pips, and have characteristic court card designs for the King (re or regio), Queen (donna) and Knave (Gobbo or Fante).

Toscane or Fiorentine playing cards feature single-headed court cards featuring a full portrait, whereas the other three styles feature double-headed court cards. Piemontese Ace cards feature a decorative wreath around the suit symbol – originally this was absent on the Ace of Hearts, but modern decks increasingly include the wreath on all four Aces.