Unicorn Tapest Hardcover – Oct 1998
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This unicorn tapestries are one of the most popular attractions at The Cloisters, the medieval branch of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Written by a world authority on medieval textiles, this beautifully illustrated book traces the origins of the seven enigmatic tapestries as well as the possible interpretations of their symbolism and presents details of each imaginatively woven scene.
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These now-famous works of art apparently belonged to François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld, in the late 1600s. They were taken from his chateau and later used by peasants to protect their food from frosts. Fortunately, they were recovered in 1850 and later (1922) purchased by John D. Rockefeller who gave them to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
I was fortunate enough to see them last October. My fiancé and I made the trek from Times Square, via subway, to Fort Tryon Park, where The Cloisters are peacefully nestled. We crawled from the sub-terrain and entered the lush, fragrant park. It's a bit of a walk up to the museum, but the garden atmosphere astonished us. We couldn't believe we were in NY! The Cloisters were quiet and uncrowded in the morning. There's a center court complete with bubbling fountains and plants from the Medieval era that is open to the sky. We crossed this courtyard and entered into the small room where the tapestries occupy their personal space. I will never forget the experience. They took my breath away.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I've been back a few times over the years to see these priceless treasures, and each time, they have induced silent awe.
Margaret Freeman's volume provides a great record of the collection, including fine pictorial details, and scholarly (but engrossing) explanations of the tapestry themes and motifs.
This is an art book you'll be happy to have.
I recommend this to anyone who enjoys learning more about some of the finer things in life that have survived the test of time--these tapestries are truly gems!
The author's essay explaining what the tapestries mean and the symbolic meaning of the unicorn is especially good. Although there seem to be overlapping symbolic structures, the main one is that the hunt and the unicorn represent the Passion of Christ.
There is a less successful chapter, at least for this reader, in which the author attempts to explain the technical details about how the tapestries were woven.
All in all, this is an excellent collection of material about these beautiful tapestries. Now that I have read it, I want to go back and look at them again!
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