The Lady and the Unicorn (Art Gallery of New South Wales)

Reviewed by
ABR Arts

The Lady and the Unicorn (Art Gallery of New South Wales)

Reviewed by
ABR Arts

One of France’s great treasures, the five-hundred-year-old, six-panel tapestry series called The Lady and the Unicorn, is in Australia for four months, courtesy of some fortuitous inter-museum contacts, and deft work by the Art Gallery of New South. A loan of such significance usually takes years to negotiate. This one was finalised and mounted at warp speed (one might say). Don’t miss it; it is rare for textile works of such renown and fragility to travel. France has only lent its Lady and the Unicorn twice before – to New York’s Metropolitan Museum and to Japan’s national art centres in Tokyo and Osaka.

The tapestries themselves are beautiful, enigmatic, elevated. Luminous in their dark room, they float above the reflective pool of a glassy black floor (the AGNSW installation is a triumph), otherworldly, and as disconcerting as the mythical unicorn itself. You might walk slowly past and simply marvel at their textured intricacy and splendour, but you are unlikely to do only that. There is such play, such a blending of the naturalistic with the allegorical in these great panels, that any child would stop to peer and wonder at their detail, be transported into their world of myth, of story, of women, beasts, and nature, freighted with mystery. And anyone who has ever sat with needle and thread over an embroidery sampler, or who has knotted warp thread onto sticks and passed wool under and over, will have some inkling of the technical finesse of these works. They are, simply, masterpieces – of imagination and execution.

From the New Issue

Comments (3)

  • As a student in Paris in 1968, I enjoyed visiting 'The Lady and the Unicorn' at the delightful Musée de Cluny in the Latin Quarter. She is considered to be the 'Mona Lisa of the Middle Ages'. My partner and I spent an hour taking photos and rejoicing in details of the tapestries, each picture based on one of the 'creative' senses of Smell, Taste, Sound, Sight, Touch, and Love at the Art Gallery of NSW in February.
    Posted by Anne Skyvington
    Wednesday, 05 December 2018 11:00
  • Mr. Jacky LORETTE
    37320 CORMERY
    FRANCE
    jacky.lorette@laposte.net

    Hello.

    I am very happy that tapestries of The Lady and the Unicorn can be seen by Australians in Australia.
    I appreciated your article and the beautiful pictures of great quality.
    I have been studying these tapestries for over forty years. The interpretation of the six tapestries of The Lady and the Unicorn requires careful observation of every detail.
    To take note of a new interpretation of these tapestries, I invite you to visit the following addresses:
    http://dame-licorne.pagesperso-orange.fr/
    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsmmWl5cQ0_3Py7FVZcoGDQ
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUgnRvhAuG8
    I wish you a good reading. Great regards.
    Jacky LORETTE
    Posted by Jacky LORETTE
    Thursday, 01 March 2018 03:48
  • Hello.
    To read more about the tapestries of The Lady and the unicorn :
    http://dame-licorne.pagesperso-orange.fr/
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUgnRvhAuG8

    jacky.lorette@laposte.net
    Posted by Jacky LORETTE
    Wednesday, 28 February 2018 07:28

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