Ancient Cards History: Jacks

We all play casino online games and popular blackjack or poker. But, do you know the history of Jacks? First thing you’ve got to know about these cards is that they used to be called ‘Knaves’, after certain servants of the King or Queen. The abbreviation of the card, displayed in the index of the card, was ‘Kn’. However, this one was confused a lot with the ‘K’ from the Kings, so they changed it to ‘Jack’ (‘J’). As you all know there are four different Jacks out there and although they don’t represent anyone in particular in the Anglo-Saxon world of cards, they do in French decks. Here are the first two historical/mythological figures:

Jack of Diamonds

The Jack of diamonds is supposed to represent ‘Hector’. Hector origins from the Greek mythology, being the son of the Trojan king Priamos. This guy was considered the most important protector of Troy during the Trojan war. One thing particularly helped him to stay alive during this war: he was prohibited to meet Achilles (his great Greek rival), thanks to a prediction of a prophet. So each time Achilles didn’t feel like fighting, Hector troubled the Greek army.

So everything went pretty smooth for Hector, till he decided to kill Patroclus, a nephew of Achilles. Achilles got really pissed off by this and he challenged Hector for an heads-up.  Achilles pwned this match and really kicked the hell out of Hector. While dying, Hector begged Achilles to transfer his body to Priamos, but Achilles refused, tied the body to his chariot and drove him three times around town, quite a humiliation. He then left him to the dogs but the Gods protected Hector’s body from further damage.

But Achilles wasn’t finished yet: each day he dragged Hector nine times around the grave of Patroklos, refusing to hand over the body to the Trojans. As you can see, this Achilles guy was not somebody to mess around with. Zeus himself was needed to convince Achilles of giving the body to Priamos, which he did after receiving a huge ransom. So be careful with this card, this Hector can get you into great trouble when you’re overconfident.

Jack of Clubs

The Jack of clubs stands for ‘Lancelot’. Lancelot takes part in the legend of King Arthur, whose characters were never proven to have really existed.  Lancelot was the right-hand man of King Arthur and one of the Knights of the Round Table. According to the legend, Lancelot and Arthur were good friends. However, Lancelot couldn’t hold his hands off Arthur’s wife Guinevere, which damaged the unity between the knights of the king.

Before Lancelot started his booming career as a knight, he was just an outlaw in search of some freedom. Lancelot becomes an hero after he saves Guinevere from the enemy one day, consequently receiving a fixed seat at the Round Table as ‘Sir Lancelot’. But when he betrays Arthur, Lancelot is banned from castle Camelot (the place they used to gather for knights stuff), ending up as a slumdog again. So never bluff with this card, as your opponent will find out the truth and will leave you behind without any money.

Welcome back, people of the poker scene. As announced last time, we’ll discuss the remaining two Jacks today, the Jack of hearts and the Jack of spades. All part of our history lessons here. Goal: know what you’re playing with.

Jack of Hearts

Contrary to our two friends from last time, the Jack of hearts represents a figure who has actually lived in our real world. We’re talkin more specifically about Étienne de Vignolles, better known as ‘La Hire’. This guy was a French military leader during the Hundred Years’ War. As you might know (or not), this is a generic term for a long series of conflicts between the kings of England and France (1337-1453). One of his buddies in this war was the prolly more famous Jeanne d’Arc.

La Hire decided to join the army of Charles VII in 1418, when this fella was king of France. Problem for Charles was that Henry VI (king of England) thought hé was also king of France, leading to some serious fighting. La Hire supported Charles when the English army invaded France in 1418. He was quite successful, as he was promoted as captain-general of Normandy. But then he died because of some kind of unknown disease. So you can go to war with his card, don’t hesitate to play it.

Jack of Spades

The real name of the Jack of spades is ‘Ogier the Dane’. This is also a character from a legend, so it’s real existence was never proven. Ogier acquired his portion of fame by appearing in so called ‘chansons de geste’. This may sound a little gay but in fact, those are songs tributed to certain guys who are known for heroic deeds.  Those songs date from the 11th and 12th century, when La Hire couldn’t even dream of appearing on a card yet.

Not much more to tell about this guy, as our friend Ogier was not connected to any historical Danish event whatsoever. So I guess the creator of this figure just lobbied a freaking lot to get his creation on one of the playing cards. It’s up to you to decide if and when you want to play this card: this card is surrounded by mystery.

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John Selway About Drawing

“Drawing for me is the primary source of making an idea a visual reality – the external manifestation of an idea in its rawest form. My work tries to deal with the world in a way that involves an imaginative reworking of the facts. My paintings are not in any sense a duplication of the experience of these facts, but the extension of the original experience in a way that mixes that experience with other sources into a system of imaginative and formal visual inventions. In Herbert Read’s book ‘The Meaning of Art’ he quotes from a child “I think and then I draw around my think”. This I feel explains my position perfectly.” Check also other painters on our blog.

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“Since leaving the Royal College of Art my work has evolved from systems to metaphysical sculpture. Apart from public commissions my most recent work is made from cast iron, and is left in a rusted state. For many people rusted iron means spoiled iron, but in a metaphysical world the real state of this material unites the truth of the material with pure thought. My sculptures use components that we understand as real, yet display intentions of how you think of the relationship between them. The object is conceived by intentions without being concerned about what it looks like. For example in ‘From Guitar to Typewriter’ I have modeled the transformation of a guitar to a typewriter. Two objects mimicking each other. I am fascinated by the space between; whether it’s the sound between notes, the pause between word associations, or the unknown form between these objects”.

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Glyn Jones And His Art Works

I am interested in exploring the way in which the process of painting, symbols and abstraction can be used to convey and interpret experience. A kind of non verbal communication which creates a sensation which may strike a chord deep within me and hopefully within those who take enough time to absorb the work. My interest in Celtic ornamentation, the art and crafts of India, North Africa and the countries of the Far East, together with the particular sensations experienced when I have traveled in them, all contribute directly or indirectly to my work. I usually work on a painting over a long period during which the deliberate application of various images, marks and techniques create many chance relationships between color and form. I enjoy improvising within ever expanding parameters. I see this process of improvisation as similar to that used by many composers and musicians, particularly in jazz and the music of India. These preoccupations are synthesized through the painting process to fix an image and create a sensation that , for me, needs no further alteration.

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Painting From Emrys Williams


“In my painting various seaside spaces have formed the basis of investigations into ideas to do with memory, imagination and the way one might reconstruct our experience through remembered fragments. The paintings have appropriated imagery from travels in Wales, France and Italy relating to art historical sources, as well as particular motifs found on location.
Individual pictures are generally made as part of a series and repetition within the imagery suggests sequential and narrative links, with some images re-appearing from one picture to another like leitmotifs or fragments from a short story. There is a deliberate tension in the work between depicted memory and abstract concerns of scale, material and the nature of painting as a physical object.”

Check also art works from Dilys Jackson 

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Amazing Art Works From Dilys Jackson

“My work derives from the kinaesthetic relationship that I experience between natural forms and those of the human body. My perception of shape , mass and process in the world around me is arrived at not only through my eyes, but also through the sensation of myself in space. I mainly use metal and stone to realise these relationships. These materials have an intrinsic weight and presence through which I explore both their mass and internal space, but also the shapes that derive from the perceived processes of growth or movement which appear to have formed them. In my drawings I tear paper and pigments as sculptural elements. The works have formal elements of both sigularity and division by which I seek to express the dynamic balance between the pressure of the weight of the whole and the release of pressure between parts.”

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The Best From Artist Dennis Gardiner

“My paintings deal with my conscious and unconscious response to my cultural environment. My references are abstracted from decorated man made surfaces through to geographical locations. These visual anomalies are re-interpretated and encapsulated in my work, creating a physical and intellectual visual statement of colour and marks.”

Dennis Gardiner was born in Staffordshire and studied at Staffordshire University and the Royal College of Art where he recieved an MA degree. He has exhibited both nationally and internationally and has work in private and public collections including the Department of the Environment, Leicester L.E.A, the Government Art Collection, Imperial College London, St Thomas’s Hospital, Fife Regional Council and the former South Glamorgan Council (City and County of Cardiff). Check also other artists 

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“As with any creative endeavour, when embarking on a painting there comes a point at which most of the possibilities have to be jettisoned so that work can develop the remaining, carefully selected ideas. This might be called by some ‘the point of no return’, but that would be simplistic because paint has a life of its own, and no matter how well planned a project is, massive changes can and do take place during the painting stage. Creative upheavals can carry the artist to unexpected places, and the finished painting may end up being far from what was originally envisaged. This is good. It’s what makes the process both unpredictable and exhilarating. It can also result in despair. It has always been important to me that no matter how technically good I may get at the business of painting, I continue to lay myself open to the currents that carry me in new directions. “I learn and unlearn” has become a kind of mantra. Every time I reach a point where skill becomes even close to practised and reliable, I feel the urge to derail the train”.

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Interesting Review About Carol Hiles

“My subject matter is public gardens. I am interested in the construction of parks as spaces; the arrangement of natural and man-made forms which combine a sense of liberty with confinement. I enjoy the encounter with formality with vivid nature. Small scale drawings are made on the spot; it is important for me to start with direct and often close observation of reality. Back in the studio these are arranged and reformed using abstracted space and colour to create another environment and experience. In these works, natural, manufactured or manicured elements can be regarded as performers in a drama. The fusion of reality and invention continues to intrigue me and to act as an echo of the contrivance and gloriousness of gardens. They are controlled and yet seductive landscapes. My paintings mirror the organisation of these places whilst celebrating their form,surface and colour.”

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