Viewing the Lady with the Unicorn tapestries in the Cluny Museum is one of the most memorable parts of a visit to Paris. All six of these tapestry masterpieces hang in their own round room where an atmosphere of awe and wonder reigns: I do not exaggerate.
This is partly because of the setting but mostly because of the impact of seeing these six large magnificent tapestries which superbly represent an historical artform and also by knowing something about their chequered history.
These 12′ high masterpieces were woven in about 1511 and feature the arms of Jean le Viste. Each tapestry represents one of the senses except for the final enigmatic ‘A Mon Seul Desir’ (translated perhaps as “To my only love”). All of them were lost until 1844 when the novelist Georges Sands discovered them in the town hall at Boussac suffering from damage from rats and the damp walls. The Cluny Museum in Paris purchased them in 1853 and later carried out a rather poor restoration – you can see the colour difference of the restored lower portions.
These six medieval tapestries are now considered to be amongst the national treasures of France and I do encourage you to see them when next in Paris. The museum has a wonderful selection of medieval tapestries and surely the best overall collection of medieval art. Alternatively, you can purchase about 40 versions of them from our website, all woven by high quality long-established weavers in France or Belgium. We can advise you about the differences in weave quality. All are lined and have a rod pocket for easy hanging.