Friday Photo: The Unicorn Hunt

The Unicorn HuntToday’s Friday Photo depicts a scene from the reproduction tapestry of the Hunt of the Unicorn housed at Stirling Castle. In later mediaeval courts, tapestries were a luxurious furnishing, helping to bring colour and artistry into the lived environment but requiring a huge amount of labour and costly material to produce. This one is modelled off a well-known set of tapestries produced around 1500 which depict several stages of a unicorn hunt–an event tinged with religious overtones of the Passion of Christ–and were probably displayed in France. Their inclusion in the restoration of Stirling Castle was based of the belief that one of the castle’s most influential inhabitants, King James IV, had a similar set of tapestries (the close links between France and Scotland make this likely.) If so, he was indulging in a luxury prized by monarchs throughout Europe, whose collections can now be seen in places as far afield as the Cloisters Museum in New York and Wawel Castle (proud owner of several massive woodland tapestries) in Krakow.

9 thoughts on “Friday Photo: The Unicorn Hunt

    • The Cloisters is really my only reason for wanting to visit New York–I look forward to pictures from your trip! From what I’ve read, the colour on the original tapestries is still spectacular!

      • Oh I would absolutely recommend the museum, as well as Paris in general — although there are French cities with much more on display as far as medieval vestiges, Paris has a surprising number if you know where to look!

        By the way, not to spam you with my own links, but I’m quite interested in medieval France and have often written about or photographed it. You may be interested to check out a few of my posts, including one on the city of Carcassonne http://wp.me/p1dHNL-1SPQSy, and two on the Notre Dame cathedral http://wp.me/p1dHNL-1SPQSy and http://wp.me/p1dHNL-1SPRr7.

        Maybe you can even correct my historical mistakes if I have any! Thanks and take care.

      • Yes, there’s an adorable little aquamanile of a griffin. I just did a whole treasure hunt themed on bestiary, so it’s on my mind. But strangely in my research building it I only came across one unicorn – though know they were a popular subject for tapestries from the Cluny’s wonderful collection.

        And if you go to NY drop me a line daisydeplume@gmail.com (or Paris, too, of course!).
        Best,
        D

      • Hi Daisy,

        I remembered that you were interested in finding information about mediaeval bestiaries, and I just happened upon a site that you might like: http://bestiary.ca/index.html . It seems to have a lot of well oraganised information, as well as illustrations, so I hope it has what you need!

        Best,

        Marissa

    • Hi Daisy,

      No, I don’t, unfortunately. The closest would be my Oldest Animals post, about mediaeval Welsh folklore and animals, although after this post I had been thinking about writing one. I’m certain their would be good artefacts for it in the Louvre somewhere!

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