Among the special powers attributed to the unicorn is its ability to purify water. How appropriate, therefore, that on this delicately woven and colored band, the magical beasts appear in pairs repeatedly at either side of a fountain, gently dipping their horns into the cascading water.
One of the hangings in The Cloisters' Unicorn Tapestries Room shows the unicorn similarly posed. There, animals gather from far and wide to drink, despite the ominous presence of hunters.
Artist: Attributed to workshop of Apollonio di Giovanni di Tomaso (Italian, Florence ca. 1416–1465 Florence)Date: after ca. 1461Medium: Poplar wood, linen, polychromed and gilded gesso with panel painted in tempera and goldAccession: 14.39On view in:Gallery 604
Date: 16th centuryMedium: Embroidery on gauze weave; warp: undyed linen, Z spun, S plied, 16 per cm, paired warps; weft: undyed linen, Z spun, S plied, 8 per cmAccession: 07.62.61On view in:Gallery 599