Tapestry

c. 1500 (made)
Tapestry thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
Not currently on display at the V&A
On short term loan out for exhibition
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This is a fragment from what may have been a much larger tapestry hanging. It is a type know as millefleurs, meaning a thousand flowers. This was a very popular style in the late 15th and early 16th century, and millefleurs were woven in many different centres and workshops in Northern France and Flanders, varying much in quality. They often included small animals and birds among the flowers, like the partridges and cock here, and sometimes featured the owner's coat-of-arms, in which case the animals might be symbolic. The unicorn was associated in legend with chastity and invulnerability, since only a virgin might catch and tame it, and its horn was considered an antidote to poison.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Tapestry woven in wool and silk
Brief Description
Tapestry fragment woven in wool and silk, depicting a unicorn, Flanders, ca.1500
Physical Description
Woven tapestry in wool and silk on a woollen warp, depicting unicorn, partridges and a cock seizing a worm, surrounded by flowers.

May be a fragment of a larger tapestry.

14 warp threads to inch.
Dimensions
  • Height: 183cm
  • Width: 212cm
Gallery Label
MILLEFLEURS fragment with a UNICORN Around 1500, tapestries were particularly in demand with grounds covered so closely by different flowering plants that there seemed to be a thousand or more. These 'millefleurs' tapestries, often with small animals and birds among the flowers, sometimes featured the owner's coat-of-arms, in which case the animals might be symbolic. The unicorn was associated in legend with chastity and invulnerability, since only a virgin might catch and tame it, and its horn was considered an antidote to poison. FLEMISH; early 16th century Museum number 232-1894(ca. 2003)
Subjects depicted
Summary
This is a fragment from what may have been a much larger tapestry hanging. It is a type know as millefleurs, meaning a thousand flowers. This was a very popular style in the late 15th and early 16th century, and millefleurs were woven in many different centres and workshops in Northern France and Flanders, varying much in quality. They often included small animals and birds among the flowers, like the partridges and cock here, and sometimes featured the owner's coat-of-arms, in which case the animals might be symbolic. The unicorn was associated in legend with chastity and invulnerability, since only a virgin might catch and tame it, and its horn was considered an antidote to poison.
Collection
Accession Number
232-1894

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record createdSeptember 30, 2003
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