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Unicorn Tapest Hardcover – Oct 1998

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Harry N Abrams (October 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810939479
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810939479
  • Product Dimensions: 24.1 x 1.6 x 31.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 739 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,883,717 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

Book Description

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.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Adolfo Salvatore Cavallo is an independent scholar who formerly worked at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
If you can't see these gorgeous tapestries in person, ***this book is a great way to view them up-close. Each tapestry, circa 1500, is shown in full (in color!) and in detail. All of the brilliant colors are from three dyes: madder (red), woad (blue), and weld (yellow). The hunt of the unicorn theme is possibly an allegory for love, marriage, even the death of Jesus Christ.
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.
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Format: Hardcover
I absolutely love the unicorn tapestries, and I fulfilled a childhood dream when i saw them at the Cluny museum in paris. The colors are vivid and beautiful and do justice to these awesome tapestries.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars 14 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars June 24 2016
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very insightful and interesting!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 2005 book is superb March 8 2015
By Jane in Milwaukee - Published on
Format: Paperback
First off: are you like me and get the Hunt of the Unicorn and Lady with the Unicorn tapestries mixed up? I always have. This book clears it up!! Author Adolfo Salvatore Cavallo has curated textiles at the Detroit Institute of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. This is his 5th book. See also:

Medieval Tapestries in The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Needlework (Smithsonian Illustrated Library of Antiques)
Western Art

The Unicorn tapestries were first discussed in print in 1888 by Xavier Barbier de Montault entitled The Lady and the Unicorn about the set of tapestries now gracing the Musée de Cluny in Paris. Barbier compared them to the Hunt of the Unicorn tapestries owned by the La Rochefoucauld family, now housed in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Both sets have been exhaustively studied and they were exhibited together at the Cluny museum 40 years ago. Both sets were constructed during the 10-year period between 1495 and 1505. The ins and outs of their construction, provenance and symbolism are discussed at great length in a fascinating and readable manner. This book cites an earlier work:

The Unicorn Tapestries

by Margaret B. Freeman which I also own and have reviewed. I highly recommend your reading both books.

It always struck me as sad, the idea of medieval princes calling for their men to hunt down and kill this beautiful mythological beast, the subject of lore for eons. Look at their casual faces shown on the cover of the book, their cavalier attitude in killing such lovely creature. When you learn about the symbolism of Christ and compare the stance of the Lady with the Unicorn, you start to understand where they were coming from in 1500 A.D. As someone who loves textiles, I'm astonished at the handiwork that went into these masterpieces. The world would be a worse place if these tapestries had not survived these five centuries.

I highly recommend this book for both the clarity of text and gorgeous photos. And I learned something new: the flora of the tapestries is displayed in painstaking detail at the back of the book, with line drawings showing every plant and flower depicted. Who knew that about 100 different varieties had been woven into these tapestries?
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sweet! Hard to find /this/ book anywhere! Jan. 18 2009
By Yoshi - Published on
Format: Paperback
Well, hard to find the original hardbound version that is! ;) This particular copy is considerably smaller than the original, but the images are just as brilliant and are wonderfully laid out within the pages of this phenominal book. As a lover of myth and legend--as well as fine art--this book suits both my tastes perfectly. The history of the tapestries (that we know of, at least) is richly detaild and it's always interesting to read the background story on any piece of art. If it's so awesome, why did I give it only four stars? My own picky nature, really--I wish it were the same as the original. ;)

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!
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless Oct. 7 2006
By Alyssa A. Lappen - Published on
Format: Paperback
I recall seeing these tapestries for the first time as a teen, when my high school class made a bus trip to the Cloisters Museum--deigned as a medieval castle--in the uppermost park in Manhattan. As I recall, I was on crutches at the time. Through the shallow, spiral stairs tested my coordination, however, the fabulous textiles, rich in color and mythology, completely distracted me from my injury.

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.
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Luminous March 12 2006
By Linda Pagliuco - Published on
Format: Paperback
One of the most beautiful, complex works of art that remain with us from the middle ages, the Unicorn Tapestries at the Cloisters Museum in New York City are a priceless treasure. Their monograph on the tapestries is a beautifully produced, meticulously researched, and well-written overview of the techniques used to weave them, the selection of colors, the symbolism of the figures and flowers, and the possible meaning of the entire sequence. To this day, no one knows for certain for whom they were woven and what they truly signify. If you haven't had a chance to see these wondrous tapestries in person, consider putting them on your list of things to do before you die. If you have been fortunate enough to make a visit, this book will certainly increase your understanding and appreciation of this masterpiece. We are fortunate to have them, though they probably truly belong in France or Belgium.