2018HSSL_FlipBooks

2018_FlipBook_Getlein_LivingWithArt_12e

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T H E M I D D L E A G E S I N E U R O P E  • 369 15.23 Rose window and lancets, north transept, Chartres Cathedral. 13th century. Diameter of rose window 42'. Angelo Hornak/Alamy Stock Photo Although all art of the Middle Ages was imbued with Christian culture, not all of it was made for religious settings. Royal and noble households and, as the period drew to its close, wealthy merchant families would have owned not only paintings and carvings of religious subjects for private devotion but also fine carved furniture, illuminated books, and objects to grace daily life, such as the aquamanile illustrated in Chapter 12 (see 12.6). But the most treasured medieval possessions, more valuable by far than paintings, were tapestries—large woven hangings (15.24). Often created in cycles that told a story or followed a theme, sumptuous tapestries were hung in great halls and private chambers. The tapestry illustrated here is from a cycle of six hangings known as The Lady and the Unicorn, woven for a member of a wealthy French family named Le Viste toward the end of the 15th century. The unicorn is a mythical beast that, according to legend, can be tamed only by a beautiful young girl. Here, it also stands in for Le Viste himself in amorous pursuit. The lion, too, signals Le Viste's presence by holding up a standard bearing the family coat of arms. Five of the tapestries are devoted to the five senses. The subject of the tapestry here is smell: A servant offers a basket of flowers, while on the bench behind the lady, a monkey sniffs at a blossom he has stolen. The genteel elegance of the tapestry is typical of the Gothic style. The figures are long and graceful, with a slight curve at the hip. Light modeling suggests their 15.24 Smell, from The Lady and the Unicorn. Late 15th century. Wool and silk, 12' ½" × 10' 6 ¾". Musée National du Moyen Age–Thermes de Cluny, Paris. Erich Lessing/Art Resource, NY R E L A T E D W O R K S 12.4 Tree of Jesse, Chartres Cathedral 3.1 Sainte-Chapelle 12.6 Lion aquamanile

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