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‘The Lady and the Unicorn’ tapestries head to Japan

The tapestries of “The Lady and the Unicorn” (Dame a la Licorne) at the Cluny museum in Paris in May 2006.

PARIS: 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.

Woven around 1500, the six tapestries,which are part of the collection of Paris’ Cluny Museum, will be on display at Tokyo’s National Art Centre from April 24 to July 15, and then Osaka’s National Museum of Art from July 26 to Oct. 20.

It is only the second time the famed tapestries will be shown outside France, after they were lent to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1973-74 by the Cluny, where they have been held since 1882.

The tapestries each depict a woman with a unicorn 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 works from the European Middle Ages – is being refurbished. About 40 other items from its collection will also be temporarily sent to Japan.

 

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