The woman behind the world's most famous tarot deck was nearly lost in history

Culture May 12, 2022 Culture
The woman behind the world's most famous tarot deck was nearly lost in history

Pamela Colman Smith illustrated the most famous tarot deck, but her contributions were eclipsed by A.E. Waite, who commissioned her.

From CNN | Style by Jacqui Palumbo, CNN

Hold a question in your mind, shuffle, select your cards and see into your future. For centuries, people of all walks of life have turned to tarot to divine what may lay ahead and reach a higher level of self-understanding.

The cards' enigmatic symbols have become culturally ingrained in music, art and film, but the woman who inked and painted the illustrations of the most widely used set of cards today -- the Rider-Waite deck from 1909, originally published by Rider & Co. -- fell into obscurity, overshadowed by the man who commissioned her, Arthur Edward Waite.

Now, over 70 years after her death, the creator Pamela Colman Smith has been included in a new exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York highlighting many underappreciated artists of early 20th-century American modernism in addition to famous names like Georgia O'Keeffe and Louise Nevelson.

Photo via Public Domain

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