After the Louvre and the Vladimir Cosma concert at Le Grand Rex, Bert and Wim left Paris for Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Vienna and Prague. On Sunday, I decided to go to the Musée de Cluny – Musée national du Moyen Âge in the Quartier Latin.
“The Hôtel de Cluny is perhaps the most outstanding example still extant of civic architecture in medieval Paris. It was formerly the town house (hôtel) of the abbots of Cluny, started in 1334. The structure was rebuilt by Jacques d’Amboise, abbot in commendam of Cluny 1485–1510; it combines Gothic and Renaissance elements. In 1843, it was made into a public museum, to hold relics of France’s Gothic past preserved in the building by Alexandre du Sommerard.” Dixit Wikipedia.
Now it hosts the National Museum for the Middle Ages. Unfortunately, the museum is partially closed until 2020. Luckily the ‘The Lady and the Unicorn‘ or ‘La Dame à la licorne‘ is on display.
Five of the tapestries are commonly interpreted as depicting the five senses: taste, hearing, sight, smell, and touch. The sixth displays the words ‘À mon seul désir‘.
The tapestry’s meaning is obscure, but has been interpreted as representing love or understanding. Each of the six tapestries depicts a noble lady with the unicorn on her left and a lion on her right; some include a monkey in the scene.
The pennants, as well as the armour of the Unicorn and Lion in the tapestry bear the arms of the sponsor, Jean Le Viste, a powerful nobleman in the court of King Charles VII. However, a very recent study of the heraldry appears to lend credence to another hypothesis – previously dismissed – that the real sponsor of the tapestry is Antoine II Le Viste (1470–1534), a descendant of the younger branch of the Le Viste family and an important figure at the court of Charles VIII, Louis XII and François I.
‘The Lady and the Unicorn’ is an epic collection of tapestries. While everyone rushes to the Louvre, why not go and see the unicorns in real life? The display is accompanied by an exhibition on unicorn in western culture.