FRANCO-FLEMISH, CIRCA 1500, POSSIBLY ASSEMBLED FROM ELEMENTS OF THE SAME LARGER TAPESTRY
Property from the Collection of Paul W. Doll, Jr.
FRANCO-FLEMISH, CIRCA 1500, POSSIBLY ASSEMBLED FROM ELEMENTS OF THE SAME LARGER TAPESTRY

A MILLE FLEURS TAPESTRY WITH A UNICORN AND A STAG IN A FIELD OF FLOWERS

Details
FRANCO-FLEMISH, CIRCA 1500, POSSIBLY ASSEMBLED FROM ELEMENTS OF THE SAME LARGER TAPESTRY
A MILLE FLEURS TAPESTRY WITH A UNICORN AND A STAG IN A FIELD OF FLOWERS
42 in. (106.7 cm.) high, 79 ½ in. (202 cm.) wide, overall
Provenance
Mrs. Christian R. Holmes (1871-1941), 1107 Fifth Avenue, New York and ‘The Chimneys’, Sands Point, Long Island and sold Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York, 15-18 April, 1942, lot 743.
Baron Jean Germain Léon Cassel van Doorn (1882–1952) and Baroness Marie Cassel van Doorn, Brussels; Paris and Cannes; and Englewood, New Jersey.

Brought to you by

Book an appointment
Book an appointment

Check the condition report or get in touch for additional information about this

If you wish to view the condition report of this lot, please sign in to your account.

Sign in
View condition report

Lot Essay

The present lot, exceptionally preserved, is equally matched in the mastery of the weaving by the complex composition.
The renowned series of seven “Unicorn Tapestries” in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art at the Cloisters and gifted by John D. Rockefeller are the most celebrated examples of this subject matter. The scholarship surrounding this series has greatly increased the understanding of both the narrative and the complex symbols represented.
The subject of the unicorn fascinated artists in the middle ages. The mystical creature was thought to be invincible, armed with a horn that possessed a therapeutic power. In the series at the Cloisters, the unicorn is depicted in a manner of attitudes, from gentle to ferocious, passive to animalistic.
The wild yet noble stag juxtaposed with the majestic and magical unicorn creates a duality of masculinity and femininity, as well as grace and unrest. In other examples of tapestries that depict both a stag and a unicorn, a more outward display of violence is typically illustrated, but the composition of this work can nearly be interpreted as harmonious, two wild creatures acknowledging the grace and power each possess. No blood is shed, and instead they are peacefully at rest, nestled in colorful millefleurs background.
The flora and fauna are equally as significant in their symbolism, and play an important role in the interpretation of the tapestries. In the series of Unicorn Tapestries at the Cloisters, over 100 species of plants and herbals are represented. Medieval herbals such as sage and marigolds, along with species like wild orchids and thistles feature prominently. Here, the field of flowers is a reminder that the unicorn was able to withstand the strongest and most deadly poisonous plants by way of his healing horn.

More from Old Masters

View All
View All