La Licorne



Fly, drive, cycle or walk to Paris and find the museum that harbors the utmost on Unicorns, the Licorne tapestries of Flemish origin that date from the end of the Middle Ages.

Five of the tableaus represent the senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch, while the sixth refers to matters of heart.

Approach and give them a first look. Then close your eyes to sense what you hear, taste and smell. Open your eyes again and experience the untouchable. This page will give you a forebode.



(The Sight)

The Lady holds a mirror for the Unicorn. Some critics claim the unicorn can't see himself because his image is shown to us. Though this is correct from a scientific point of view it does no right to the artists' obvious intention. The Ladies' upper dress is lifted to allow the Unicorn closer to the safety of her lap. The Lion holds the standard of the family Le Viste, rising French aristocracy from Lyon at the time. The banner displays three upcoming moons, or French breads (croissants) in silver.


(The Hearing)


The Lady has got up to play the organ. Another woman has joined her to give vocal support, while applying the organ's belly. Judging from her size, dress and jewelry she is the lesser. Both the Lion and the Unicorn figure with banner on the side. Notice the carved images of them on the organ.



(The Taste)


The Court-lady is holding a cup filled with delicatessen for the Lady. Both of them are at their prettiest. The Monkey at the bottom is also taken a taste of something. The Unicorn and the Lion have changed banners and are dressed with a cape.



(The smell)


The Court-lady holds a tray for the Lady that is making a wreath of flowers. The Lady has changed dress and both women have lifted part of their dress.  The Monkey takes a good smell of a flower from the basket. The Lion and the Unicorn stay guard again. They have traded their capes for shields. The shield of the Unicorn is of a fancy shape and a sword has been mounted on it.  



(The Touch)


Now it the lady that holds the banner. The other hand touches lightly the horn of the Unicorn that looks up to her in a loving trance. Both the Lion and the Unicorn carry a shield.


There she is again, our Lady from before in a less ladylike shape, the hair in rags and the necklace around the arm. The contrast with the Court-lady with her deftly styled hair is painful to watch. The Lion and the Unicorn are not only holding banners, they also lift the ends of the tent opening. In my perception they stand ready to drop the tent cloth after the Lady has laid off her jewelry allowing her  to change for a fitting religious dress in order to follow her only wish. As for myself I take it that the lady is in the process of disavowing from all earthy pleasantries to devote the remainder of her life to a heavenly calling.




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