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The Unicorn Tapestries in The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Cavallo, Adolfo Salvatore (1998)
This title is in print.

Among the most popular attractions at The Cloisters, the medieval branch of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, is a set of tapestries depicting the hunt of the fabled unicorn. This is the first book in more than two decades on these extraordinarily beautiful works of art. Each of the seven exquisite tapestries is reproduced in large color-plates and with a wealth of color details. Created in the Netherlands in 1495–1505, they contain supremely memorable images—from the vulnerable unicorn and the individualized faces of the hunters to the naturalistically depicted flora and fauna. For more than a century these intriguing tapestries—like the Lady with the Unicorn series in the Musée de Cluny in Paris—have been examined and discussed at length in popular and scholarly literature. Many interpretations of their origins and subject have been proposed, yet the truth remains a mystery. For whom were they made? What symbolic meaning do they have? What stories do they tell? Here, Adolfo Cavallo, one of the world's leading authorities on medieval tapestries, addresses these issues and draws on ancient and medieval sources to explain the history of the unicorn itself and its significance as both a secular and a Christian symbol. The author also looks at the construction of the tapestries and the historical and cultural context in which they were woven. Two appendixes focus on the plants and animals in the millefleurs backgrounds for which the unicorn tapestries are also famous.

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