Classic Tapestries Collection – The Tapestry Cycle

The French say, “La Dame a la Licorne”, which I think may be best interpreted in English as “The Lady and the Unicorn”, also known as the Tapestry Cycle. It is one of the greatest works of art of the Middle Ages in Europe. The original Tapestry Cycle resides in the Musee de Cluny, in Paris, France since 1882.

There are six (6) tapestries that make up the series in The Tapestry Cycle, which was woven long ago in the late fifteenth century in Flanders and made of silk and wool. Six different tapestries depict the six senses: touch, taste, smell, sight, hearing, and “to my only desire” or as the French say, “? mon seu d?sir”. We interpret this to be “love” in all languages.

Not so easily grasped is the meaning of the sixth tapestry. To my only desire or as they say in French, ? Mon Seul D?sir – We shall call this our sense of Love. A very good sense indeed. This is the wider of all the other tapestries and the style is slightly different than the rest. Some feel the lady is putting her pearls into a chest as a renunciation of passions that were aroused by the other senses… an assertion of free will, yes? No? Maybe? Or perhaps this sixth sense is “understanding”, (Jean Gerson, 1420). And last but not least there is the interpretation of love or virginity. You decide.

One common “thread” within each of these tapestries is a noble lady with the unicorn to her left the lion and to her right. However, some of the series will have a monkey instead of the lion. A pennant and armor are held up by the unicorn and lion which marks the powerful nobleman in the King Charles court, Jean Le Viste, who sponsored the work of art. The style of this work is of mille-fleurs, meaning a thousand flowers. A harmony of colors were used in a limited number of shades to provide poetic enchangment.

Having a reproduction of any of these six (6) series of tapestries is very popular and they are sought after. It can be thought of as that intellectual and educational wall hanging that will enhance your home decor. Regardless, these conversation pieces stir the imagination and bring on the many talks about the different interpretation of each of these six (6) senses in these wall hangings, as well as why these tapestries were sponsored and for what reason or reasons.

A fun tale and a fun time in the telling of these stories. Every tapestry tells a story… do you know the stories? Do you know the tales? It makes for a fun day at the museum, when you can take along Mr. Art History… a friend of mine. If you don’t have one… a Mr. Art History that is, you always have some fun in my writings and those of others in telling you a bit of what we enjoy and our thoughts on these fine works of art.

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