In these two fragments of a single tapestry (see also 38.51.2), the unicorn appears to have been tamed. He seems so docile, in fact, that he is oblivious to the dog licking the wound on his back and stares loving at the maiden who must have subdued him. Most of her figure is missing, the result of damage incurred after the tapestries were looted in 1793. The remaining traces include the maiden's right arm, clothed in red velvet and visible between the beard and throat of the unicorn, and her fingers, seen gently caressing the bottom of the animal's mane. She sits in an enclosed garden (hortus conclusus), often a metaphor for the purity of a maiden. The more complete female figure may be signaling to the hunter outside the garden, who in turn sounds the horn to summon the others.
#67. The Mystic Capture of the Unicorn (from the Unicorn Tapestries)
Medium:Wool warp with wool, silk, silver, and gilt wefts
Dimensions:Overall: 66 1/2 x 25 1/2 in. (168.9 x 64.8 cm)
Credit Line:Gift of John D. Rockefeller Jr., 1938
Inscription: (on upper tree branch): AE
Comtes de La Rochefoucauld, France ; François VI de La Rochefoucauld French, 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 (1856) ; comte Gabriel de La Rochefoucauld, France (until 1938) ; Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller Jr. American (in 1923)
Anderson Galleries. "Exhibited by Edouard Larcade," 1922.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "French Gothic Tapestries," May 25–September 16, 1928.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of Fifty Centuries," November 14, 1970–June 1, 1971.
Galeries nationales du Grand Palais. "Masterpieces of Tapestry from the 14th to the 16th century," October 27, 1973–January 7, 1974.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of Tapestry from the 14th to the 16th century," February 8–April 21, 1974.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Unicorn Tapestries," July 1–September 6, 1998.
New York. The Cloisters Museum & Gardens. "Search for the Unicorn: An Exhibition in Honor of The Cloisters' 75th Anniversary," May-14-Aug-18-2013.
Rorimer, James J. "New Acquisitions for the Cloisters." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 33, no.5, part 2 (May 1938). p. 14.
Stoddard, Whitney S. Monastery and Cathedral in France: Medieval Architecture, Sculpture, Stained Glass, Manuscripts, the Art of the Church Treasuries. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1966. pp. 357–59.
Freeman, Margaret B. "The Unicorn Tapestries." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 32, no. 1 (1973-1974). pp. 202–205.
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.
Souchal, Geneviève, ed. Masterpieces of Tapestry from the Fourteenth to the Sixteenth Century. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1974. no. 18–24, pp. 69–79.
Freeman, Margaret. The Unicorn Tapestries. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1976. no. 5, discussed and ill. thoughout.
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. 5, 10.
Cavallo, Adolfo S. Medieval Tapestries in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1993. no. 20g, pp. 14, 51, 297–327.
Cavallo, Adolph S. The Unicorn Tapestries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1998. no. 5.
Franke, Birgit. Assuerus und Esther am Burgunderhof: Zur Rezeption des Buches Esther in den Niederlanden (1450 bis 1530). Berlin: Gebr. Mann, 1998. p. 119.
Campbell, Thomas P., ed. Tapestry in the Renaissance: Art and Magnificence. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2002. pp. 70–79, fig. 41.
Barnet, Peter, and Nancy Y. Wu. The Cloisters: Medieval Art and Architecture. New York and New Haven: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2005. no. 121, pp. 166, 199.
Piccat, Marco. "Le lettere nascoste: Caterina d’Aragona e le tappezzerie del liocorno. Musée de Cluny (Parigi)." Locus Amœnus 10 (2009–2010). p. 18.
Colburn, Kathrin. "Three Fragments of the Mystic Capture of the Unicorn Tapestry." Metropolitan Museum Journal 45 (2010). pp. 97–106, fig. 1–6, 8–11.
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. 173.
Husband, Timothy B. "Creating the Cloisters." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 70, no. 4 (Spring 2013). pp. 15–17, 43–45, fig. 30.
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. 3–1.
Boehm, Barbara Drake. "A Blessing of Unicorns: The Paris and Cloisters Tapestries." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 78, no. 1 (Summer 2020). pp. 38–41, fig. 13.
Philippe de Montebello, former Director of The Met, guides viewers through The Cloisters, pointing out Romanesque and Gothic architecture and artwork, beautiful tapestries, and the diverse species in the gardens. He outlines the history of the building and its many influences and highlights significant works of art in the collection.
Produced for the 1974 exhibition Masterpieces of Tapestry, this short form recounts the tale depicted in “The Unicorn Tapestries” and explains the symbolic meaning of these mythic creatures, including their purifying and restorative powers.
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