Early Tapestries

August 4th, 2017

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All this work with tapestry got me thinking of some of the great tapestries I’ve seen.
The Unicorn Tapestries (1500’s) at the Cloisters in NY
The Apocalypse Tapestry from the 1300’s in Angers, France
The Lady and the Unicorn (1500’s) at the Cluny in Paris. Found a wonderful video here.

My first experience with the Unicorn Tapestries in Ny was one hot summer day many years ago back when I knew nothing about tapestries. A friend said he had a surprise and we got on the NY Subway in mid town and headed north. I had no idea where we were going and the train was hot and miserable. We traveled what seemed like forever and then got off and had to take an elevator up and up and up.I thought we must have reached hell it’s self but when we arrived we were outside the Cloisters – it was breezy and delightful! Trees and flowers – then we went into the museum and I was blown away!

The other two were on a trip to France to meet my son who was studying in Strausbourg. We got there a week early and went on a bit of a tapestry tour. By now I had studied textile history with Sigred Wetlge who made the subject magical and I was a weaver. We first saw the non tapestry Bayeux Tapestry. Nothing prepared me for the length of this work – it’s condition and wonderful graphic stitchery!

image of old sketchbook pages
Pages from a very old sketchbook!

The Apocalypse Tapestry is known as a Tapestry with no back – the back is as clean as the front! Images of destruction and mayhem – interspersed with little bunnies that run into holes in one tapestry and climb out several tapestries later. And, the fact that records show when it was commissioned 1373, and by whom amazes me!

And the Lady and the Unicorn is pure poetry!