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The Unicorn Tapestries [Hardcover]

Adolfo Salvatore Cavallo
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

19 Oct 1998
The unicorn tapestries are one of the most popular attractions at The Cloisters, the medieval branch of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Traditionally known as The Hunt of the Unicorn, this set of seven exquisite and enigmatic tapestries was likely completed between 1495 and 1505. The imaginatively conceived scenes, displaying individualized faces of the hunters and naturalistically depicting the flora and fauna of the landscape, are beautifully captured in silk, wool, and metal yarns. Written by one of the world's leading authorities on medieval textiles and illustrated with many lovely colour reproductions, The Unicorn Tapestries traces the origins of the tapestries as well as possible interpretations of their symbolic meaning. This is an essential book for any lover of medieval art and textiles.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (19 Oct 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810939479
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810939479
  • Product Dimensions: 31.4 x 24.3 x 1.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,621,489 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Adolfo Salvatore Cavallo is an independent scholar who formerly worked at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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First Sentence
The Hunt of the Unicorn tapestries, like all extraordinarily beautiful and enigmatic works of art, have excited the admiration and curiosity of scholars ever since they were first mentioned in the literature in 1888. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Lavishly reproduced images 11 Mar 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Amongst other artefacts, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is home to various tapestries, including a famous set of seven tapestries depicting The Hunt for the Unicorn (another famous set of tapestries featuring the Unicorn and the Lady are in Paris, France). This descriptive volume written in 1998 received its fourth printing in 2013. Author of this work expounding upon the tapestries and their context in exquisite fashion is Adolfo Salvatore Cavallo. A native of Boston, Harvard educated, and having served as curator of the collections in several major US museums - Boston, Detroit, and Philadelphia as well as the New York's Metropolitan - he is a specialist in the history of fine textiles, dress and medieval tapestries.

The history of these particular tapestries can be traced back to 1680. Following passage through various ownerships, they were purchased by John D. Rockefeller in the 1920s. In 1937 their display was transferred to a specially designed gallery at the Cloisters branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, at Fort Tryon Park, NY.

This is a slim paperback volume comprising 128 pages of good quality paper, slightly wider than A4 size, with text double columned in a good clear font and a wide white space margin allowing the opportunity to add your own scholarly observations and remarks if desired. There are over 90 photographs and illustrations, around half of which are full-page. Many of the photographs are close-up detail to identify specific points of interest.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Sumptuous 4 Mar 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a sumptuous softback book with stunning, top-quality reproductions of the tapestries, both whole and with enlarged details and sections. The text is excellent too, and includes technical details of the weaving process, an appreciation, readable but scholarly history of the tapestries, and explanations of the symbolism contained in them - and where this is uncertain the authors are careful to say so. Gorgeous.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing story on unicorn tapestries 27 Feb 2013
By Davide
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Unicorn tapestries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art are very nice illustrated. The story of these tapestries along with the historical setting of the unicorm legend are the key features of this nice book.
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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless 7 Oct 2006
By Alyssa A. Lappen - Published on Amazon.com
I recall seeing these tapestries for the first time as a teen, when my high school class made a bus trip to the Cloisters Museum--deigned as a medieval castle--in the uppermost park in Manhattan. As I recall, I was on crutches at the time. Through the shallow, spiral stairs tested my coordination, however, the fabulous textiles, rich in color and mythology, completely distracted me from my injury.

I've been back a few times over the years to see these priceless treasures, and each time, they have induced silent awe.

Margaret Freeman's volume provides a great record of the collection, including fine pictorial details, and scholarly (but engrossing) explanations of the tapestry themes and motifs.

This is an art book you'll be happy to have.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sweet! Hard to find /this/ book anywhere! 18 Jan 2009
By Yoshi - Published on Amazon.com
Well, hard to find the original hardbound version that is! ;) This particular copy is considerably smaller than the original, but the images are just as brilliant and are wonderfully laid out within the pages of this phenominal book. As a lover of myth and legend--as well as fine art--this book suits both my tastes perfectly. The history of the tapestries (that we know of, at least) is richly detaild and it's always interesting to read the background story on any piece of art. If it's so awesome, why did I give it only four stars? My own picky nature, really--I wish it were the same as the original. ;)

I recommend this to anyone who enjoys learning more about some of the finer things in life that have survived the test of time--these tapestries are truly gems!
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Luminous 12 Mar 2006
By Linda Pagliuco - Published on Amazon.com
One of the most beautiful, complex works of art that remain with us from the middle ages, the Unicorn Tapestries at the Cloisters Museum in New York City are a priceless treasure. Their monograph on the tapestries is a beautifully produced, meticulously researched, and well-written overview of the techniques used to weave them, the selection of colors, the symbolism of the figures and flowers, and the possible meaning of the entire sequence. To this day, no one knows for certain for whom they were woven and what they truly signify. If you haven't had a chance to see these wondrous tapestries in person, consider putting them on your list of things to do before you die. If you have been fortunate enough to make a visit, this book will certainly increase your understanding and appreciation of this masterpiece. We are fortunate to have them, though they probably truly belong in France or Belgium.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful, great gift 23 Aug 2011
By Dr Beck - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is a perfect gift for friends or family who are fond of the classics. I gave it to one whose favorites are Dante and Chaucer. She loved it. The art, explanations, and histories were perfect.
12 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful 9 May 2000
By Britta A. Johnson - Published on Amazon.com
I absolutely love the unicorn tapestries, and I fulfilled a childhood dream when i saw them at the Cluny museum in paris. The colors are vivid and beautiful and do justice to these awesome tapestries.
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