The Unicorn Is Killed and Brought to the Castle, ca. 1495–1505
South Netherlandish
Wool warp, wool, silk, silver, and gilt wefts; 12 ft. 1 in. x 12 ft. 9 in. (368 x 389 cm)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Gift of John D. Rockefeller Jr., 1937 (37.80.5)


The clothing depicted in the Unicorn Tapestries served multiple purposes for its intended viewers—the members of the French nobility at the turn of the sixteenth century. Dress was a clue to the rank and role of the actors in the drama of the hunt, by the type and color of textiles used, and in the garment cuts and accessories. Body features were idealized and exaggerated just as in fashion illustration today—indeed the many variations of the hunters' jacket styles make up a veritable fashion cavalcade. The clothes probably also resonated with meaningful visual clues, embedded in layers of allegory, compositional devices, and gestures, which are perhaps lost to audiences today.

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