Red Unicorn tapestry 50X75 cm
The "Lady and the Unicorn" set of tapestries is a masterpiece of medieval weaving. The coats of arms have allowed the patron who commissioned it to be identified Jean Le Viste, who enjoyed a brilliant career in the royal administration in Paris. He intended the tapestries to express his claim to nobility, and thus had his arms scattered abundantly over banners and standards.
The tapestries represent the five senses. Sight is symbolised by the Unicorn admiring itself in a mirror,
Hearing by the sound issuing from the portative organ played by the Lady.
Touch is shown by the gesture of the young girl holding the Unicorn" born.
In taste, the Lady is taking a delicacy from a comfit dish, while the monkey at her feet is putting one into its mouth.
Smell, the young girl contents herself which plaiting a wreath from carnations which he servant holds out to her in a dish. The meaning of the scene is indicated by the monkey sitting on a stool, holding up to its nose a flower taken from a basket.
The sixth tapestry in the series, "A mon seul désir" (only at my will) signifies that se is giving up one of her finest ornaments, a necklace which she has just taken off. Renouncing jewellery in fact symbolises renouncing the passions which poorly controlled senses may unleash in us.
The Unicorn, present in all the scenes, is a fabulous animal with a horse's body and a goat's head and projecting from its forehead, the single hom which gives it its name. It often appears in heraldry supporting coats of arms, as is the case here.