‘The Lady and the Unicorn’ tapestries head to Japan for rare showing


The tapestry cycle “The Lady and the Unicorn,” considered one of the greatest artworks of Europe’s Middle Ages, is being sent to Japan for six months for a rare foreign showing, the Cluny Museum in Paris said Thursday.

The six “La Dame a la Licorne” tapestries, woven around 1500, will be put on display at Tokyo’s National Art Center from April 24 to July 15, and then at the Osaka National Museum of Art between July 26 and Oct. 20.

It is only the second time the famed tapestries have been shown outside France, after they were exhibited at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art from 1973 to 1974 by the Cluny, where they have been held since 1882.

The tapestries each depict a woman with a unicorn — a mythical creature resembling a horse with a long horn projecting from its forehead — and other animals on red backgrounds.

Five of the six are meant to depict the five senses, while the meaning of the sixth tapestry is obscure.

The tapestries are being lent as the area holding them at the Cluny Museum, which specializes in Europe’s Middle Ages, is being refurbished. About 40 other items from the Cluny collection will also be sent to Japan for the exhibition.

  • Gilles Poitras

    I expect many fans of the Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn [(機動戦士ガンダムUC(ユニコーン) Kidō Senshi Gandamu Yunikōn] I expect many fans of the Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn novel and anime series will be interested in this exhibit as one of the tapestries plays a role in the first episode. I know that would be one reason for me to go if I was in Japan.

    • Lily Queen

      Funny, I was just thinking of “The Last Unicorn,” which echoes the artwork (which I believe was mostly done by Japanese artists). But Gundam is a more logical connection for Japan.