Back in April of this year my sister Paula, our niece Penny and myself – Bree went to the exhibition of the The Lady and the Unicorn Tapestries at the Art Gallery of NSW.
Designed in Paris around 1500, these tapestries are considered to be some of the greatest surviving masterpieces of medieval European art. They depict a lady with a Unicorn on her left and a lion on her right. In some there is even a monkey. They are surrounded by enchanted animals, flowers and trees.
This was only the third time in 500 years the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries had left France. A generous loan of the collection of the Musée de Cluny – Musée national du Moyen Âge in Paris.
When you first walk in there is a long passageway with photographs of excerpts about the tapestries. See above
There are 6 large tapestries. Some say they depict the five senses – sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell – as well as a sixth sense – heart or will – represented by the phrase ‘mon seul désir’ or ‘my sole desire’.
Unfortunately I somehow missed getting a photo of the tapestry for Touch and Hearing. Hopefully one day I can see these again perhaps in their home of Paris at the Musee de Cluny.
Note’s from ” Wikipedia
- The Lady and the Unicorn is the title of a 1970 album by the English folk guitarist John Renbourn, comprising arrangements of early music. It shows the tapestry À Mon Seul Désiron its cover.
- These tapestries are depicted in the novel The Lady and the Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier.
- Several of the tapestries can be seen hanging on the walls of the Gryffindor Common Room in the Harry Potter series of films.
- The six tapestries have inspired the six movements of Kaija Saariaho‘s clarinet concerto D’om le Vrai Sens: the title is an anagram of “A mon seul désir”.
- The tapestries are featured heavily in the novel Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn and its anime adaptation. The Lady, Lion, Unicorn and chest are symbolized by various characters, mecha and items in the series.
- One of the tapestries can be found hanging in the Musée Crune in the game Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars.
- The tapestry Sight is the cover art of Anonymous 4‘s 1994 early music album Love’s Illusion: Music from the Montpellier Codex 13th Century.
- The tapestries’ orange trees were adapted and redesigned by artist Leon Coward for the mural The Happy Garden of Life in the 2016 sci-fi movie 2BR02B: To Be or Naught to Be.The mural also makes use of the millefleur style.
- The tapestries appear briefly in a scene of the 2016 movie Alice Through The Looking Glass
- Rumer Godden’s 1938 novel ‘The Lady and the Unicorn’ is based around a run-down 18th Century house built by French emigres in Calcutta, where the chapel (now converted into an apartment) bears the coat of arms with the unicorn and a French sundial in the garden is inscribed ‘Mon Seul Desir’. The ghosts of the first inhabitants appear to the current residents, principally Rosa, who is having a love-affair with a young Englishman
- After discovering them in a book, the tapestries become an obsession of the protagonist in the 2018 film “The Escape”. “
To me these tapestries are the epitome of romance and a magical time of love and life.
As my sister Paula said -” A treat of the senses”