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The Cloisters and the Unicorn Tapestries

art history inspiration letterpress valentine unicorn unicorn valentine valentine

The Unicorn Tapestries at The Cloisters

I wanted to share a little peek into the inspiration for my new Unicorn Valentine greeting card.

In my first year of art school, my art history professor sent us to visit The Cloisters, an amazing piece of medieval history tucked away in a very far corner of Manhattan, overlooking the Hudson river, which felt about 2000 miles away from our cramped Greenwich Village classroom with its humming slide projector and fidgety art students. At The Cloisters, inside a dark hall, I was amazed to find The Unicorn Tapestry. It's a familiar image - when I was little, I remember helping my cousins do a jigsaw puzzle of the same picture. Here it was, larger than life, nearly five hundred years old. It's displayed as part of a full series of seven tapestries, woven in dark wool with gilded threads. I spent a few minutes there in the quiet dark, a little overwhelmed by the huge set of huge tapestries. The quirky, botanically detailed wildflowers that fill the meadow were wonderful to see up-close. You can visit The Met Museum's "Unicorn in Captivity" page to see it and learn more about the love and fertility symbolism in this imagery, and the history behind these beloved tapestries.

The Cloisters NYC

The Cloisters NYC

The Cloisters NYC

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