Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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The Unicorn is Attacked (from the Unicorn Tapestries)

Date:
1495–1505
Culture:
South Netherlandish
Medium:
Wool warp with wool, silk, silver, and gilt wefts
Dimensions:
Overall: 145 x 168in. (368.3 x 426.7cm)
Classification:
Textiles-Tapestries
Credit Line:
Gift of John D. Rockefeller Jr., 1937
Accession Number:
37.80.3
On view at The Met Cloisters in Gallery 17
According to tradition, the unicorn cannot be disturbed while performing a magical act. The attack by the hunters thus presumably begins soon after the action depicted in The Unicorn Is Found, and the scene is one filled with chaos and commotion. The ferocity of the battle is conveyed by the converging lances aimed at the animal, the sounding of the hunting horns, and the menacing hounds. Already wounded on his back, the unicorn leaps across a stream in a desperate attempt to escape his encircling enemies.

The use of hounds to scout, chase, and eventually attack the quarry was typical practice in medieval stag hunts, and the palatial buildings in the background might be a further allusion to the hunt as a royal or aristocratic pastime. Unlike The Hunters Enter the Woods and The Unicorn in Captivity, this and the other hangings are set in realistic landscapes that enhance the drama of the hunt.
Inscription: (center and each corner): AE
(on two of dogs collars at left): AE
(center top): FR
Comtes de La Rochefoucauld, France ; François VI de La Rochefoucauld, Paris (in 1680) ; François VIII de La Rochefoucauld, château de Verteuil, Charente (in 1728) ; Château de Verteuil(said to have been looted in 1793) ; Comtes de La Rochefoucauld, château de Verteuil, Charente (in 1856) ; Comte Aimery de La Rochefoucauld, château de Verteuil, Charente (until 1923) ; Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller Jr.(in 1923 through Edouard Larcade–until 1937)
Breck, Joseph. "The Tapestry Exhibition: Part I." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, o.s., 23, no. 6 (June 1928). pp. 147–50, fig. 4.

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Rorimer, James J. "New Acquisitions for the Cloisters." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 33, no.5, Part 2 (May 1938). pp. 14-17, fig. 13.

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Souchal, Geneviève, ed. Chefs-d'œuvre de la tapisserie du XIVe au XVIe siècle. Paris: Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, 1973. no. 18–24, pp. 76–86.

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Nickel, Helmut. "About the Sequence of the Tapestries in The Hunt of the Unicorn and The Lady with the Unicorn." Metropolitan Museum Journal 17 (1982). pp. 9-14, fig. 3, 11.

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Campbell, Thomas P., ed. Tapestry in the Renaissance: Art and Magnificence. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2002. pp. 70–79.

Barnet, Peter, and Nancy Y. Wu. The Cloisters: Medieval Art and Architecture. New York and New Haven: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2005. no. 119, pp. 163, 199.

Colburn, Kathrin. "Three Fragments of the Mystic Capture of the Unicorn Tapestry." Metropolitan Museum Journal 45 (2010). pp. 97-106, fig. 2.

Barnet, Peter, and Nancy Y. Wu. The Cloisters: Medieval Art and Architecture. 75th Anniversary ed. New York and New Haven: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012. p. 171.

Taburet-Delahaye, Elisabeth, ed. La Dame à la licorne et l'art européen autour de 1500 dans les collections du musée de Cluny, Paris. Paris (?): Musée National du Moyen Âge - Thermes et Hôtel de Cluny, 2013. p. 68, fig. 5.



Related Objects

The Hunters Enter the Woods (from the Unicorn Tapestries)

Date: 1495–1505 Medium: Wool warp, wool, silk, silver, and gilt wefts Accession: 37.80.1 On view in:Gallery 17

The Unicorn in Captivity (from the Unicorn Tapestries)

Date: 1495–1505 Medium: Wool warp with wool, silk, silver, and gilt wefts Accession: 37.80.6 On view in:Gallery 17

The Unicorn is Found (from the Unicorn Tapestries)

Date: 1495–1505 Medium: Wool warp with wool, silk, silver, and gilt wefts Accession: 37.80.2 On view in:Gallery 17

The Unicorn is Killed and Brought to the Castle (from the Unicorn Tapestries)

Date: 1495–1505 Medium: Wool warp with wool, silk, silver, and gilt wefts Accession: 37.80.5 On view in:Gallery 17

The Unicorn Defends Itself (from the Unicorn Tapestries)

Date: 1495–1505 Medium: Wool warp with wool, silk, silver, and gilt wefts Accession: 37.80.4 On view in:Gallery 17