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AGNSW - The Lady and the Unicorn
Booking to 24 June 2018
Art Gallery of NSW
Created around 1500, The lady and the unicorn tapestries have been the subject of literary inspiration, scholarly speculation and wonder ever since.
While little is known of their early years, they were rediscovered in the 19th century in the Château de Boussac, a small castle in Creuse in central France. On seeing them in 1841, Prosper Mérimée, inspector general of historic monuments, recognised the tapestries as exceptional in both originality and quality. Expressing concern over their condition, he recommended they be purchased for the state.
Around the same time, novelist George Sand contributed to their fame by writing about the ‘curious enigmatic tapestries’ in her 1844 novel Jeanne. She adds: ‘These finely worked scenes are masterpieces and, if I am not mistaken, quite a curious page of history.’
After lengthy negotiations, the town of Boussac agreed to sell the tapestries to the state in 1882. They have lived at the Musée de Cluny – Musée national du moyen Âge in Paris from that time.