The Lady and the Unicorn

Hi all. I’m not usually big into getting to galleries, although I will try and get to one if I’m in a place for long enough. A couple of months ago I was in Sydney as you might remember, and I went to the Gallery of New South Wales. I will freely admit I went there not by choice but my wife does like a bit of art. So it was on our second afternoon, not long before we flew back to Melbourne, that we went to this gallery, and to an exhibition my wife was keen to see – one entitled ‘The Lady and the Unicorn’.

The name didn’t really draw me to it, and the fact that it was a display of six tapestries. However, and considering looking at them didn’t really raise my interest much, the story behind them was actually quite interesting.

They are from a village in Flanders, and are dated at being drawn from silk and wool around 1500, the original sketches are from Paris. What is interesting is that no-one really knows who made them. According to variably reliable Wikipedia, they are considered one of the great works of the Middle Ages.

They have been named, principally after senses – that’s taste,, hearing, sight, smell and touch. Which leaves the sixth tapestry named ‘A mon seul desir’, which is on the artwork and I think, roughly translated means ‘My soul’s desire’.

There are a few theories about what the tapestries are all about, and who commissioned them, possibly a noble from the court of King Charles VII. They actually were lost and rediscovered in 1841 in a castle. So you know, that’s pretty interesting too.

And I stood between them all looking at them as a whole bunch of people did. This was the sort of exhibit which only allows a certain number of people at one time. It was still a lot to be crammed into the one little place. And I wondered… something made from craftspeople five hundred years ago now. And today it has a home in France, but it tours the world. Not sure where it is right now, I think it’s left Australia shores.

Have you ever seen this art work or something similar that did a tour? What was it like? Was it worth it? Were you moved? Please comment below – and May the Journey Never End!

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