Musée de Cluny, and the Lady and the Unicorn

This is the courtyard of Musée de Cluny, the French National Museum of the Middle Ages.  I’m not really a medievalist—if anything, my historical sensibilities are more Victorian than anything else—but Cluny, which is not too far from the medieval glory that is Sainte-Chapelle, houses another masterpiece from the Middle Ages in Europe:   La Dame à la licorne, the The Lady and the Unicorn tapestries.

There are six tapestries in the set.  Five of them depicting the five senses – taste, hearing, sight, smell, and touch.   The sixth, pictured above, displays the words “À mon seul désir,” which can be translated in several ways, some of them contradictory.

The tapestries were created ~1500, and “rediscovered” about 350 years later.  In 1863, damaged by their storage conditions, they were brought to Cluny, where they were restored and eventually exhibited.

They underwent another restoration in this decade.  After two years of cleaning and repair, they went back on exhibition in 2013.  My photographs don’t begin to capture their beauty.

Here’s an interesting article about the restoration from The Guardian, which calls The Lady and the Unicorn “the Mona Lisa of woven artworks….”


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