Joslin Hall Rare Books

Curious, Unusual, Interesting & Occasionally Useful Books of the 16th-20th Centuries exploring the skills, trades, lives and ways of other times...

 Friday, December 15, 2017

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Freeman, Margaret B.
The Unicorn Tapestries.

New York Metropolitan Museum of Art / E.P. Dutton: 1976.

"On permanent exhibition at The Cloisters, in New York, seven late Gothic tapestries portray the Hunt of the Unicorn. Like the unicorn himself, they are one of the marvels of the world, for in no other work of art anywhere is the pursuit and capture of this magical creature presented in such astonishing detail, with such command of pictorial verisimilitude and symbolic intention. In a duality not rare in the late Middle Ages, the imagery is both secular and religious. The references to love, matrimonial fidelity, and desire for progeny are understandable in an ensemble that may have celebrated a marriage. But the unicorn, at the same time, is Christ, and the compositions reflect the Incarnation, the Passion, and the Resurrection. Gabriel, the angel of the Annunciation, is one of the hunters the unicorn loses his fierceness in the lap of the Virgin Mary a thorny crown encircles his horn and neck when he is slain and then the glorious creature is miraculously alive again and chained to a pomegranate tree, simultaneously an image of the risen Christ and of the lover-bridegroom secured by his adored lady. What patron conceived the extraordinary plan for these hangings, whose earliest record places them in the Paris grande chambre of Duke Francois VI de La Rochefoucauld in 1680? What artist or artists elaborated the designs to incorporate the many identifiable birds and animals, flowering plants and trees, whose visual charm and implicit meanings make these woven 'murals' endlessly fascinating? What workshop, around 1500, had the craftsmen needed to produce such superb hangings? The author, Curator Emeritus of The Cloisters, answers these questions as completely as they may now be answered. In a pleasantly informative style, she conveys all that is known or can be reasonably believed about the commissioning and the manufacture, all that can safely be conjectured about the original owners".

Hardcover. 10"x12.5", 244 pages, color and black & white illustrations, dust jacket. Light wear.

Inventory #: 35316
Price: $ 35.00      



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