The lady and the unicorn book
Review: The Lady and the Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier | Books | The GuardianKeen to demonstrate his new-found favour with the King, rising nobleman Jean le Viste commissions six tapestries to adorn the walls of his chateau. He expects soldiers and bloody battlefields. But artist Nicolas des Innocents instead designs a seductive world of women, unicorns and flowers, using as his muses Le Viste's wife Genevieve and ripe young daughter Claude. In Belgium, as his designs spring to life under the weavers' fingers, Nicolas is inspired once more - by the master weaver's daughter Alienor and her mother Christine. They too will be captured by his threads. On the erotic front, she positively explodes, the shy smiles of Pearl Earring replaced by a terrific torrent of carnal imagery, every sense invoked and appetite exploited' Guardian.
The Lady and the Unicorn
Jan 01, Minutes Buy. Dec 28, ISBN Jan 01, Minutes. They appear to portray the seduction of a unicorn, but the story behind their making is unknown—until now. Paris,
In lateth century Paris, a parvenu nobleman commissions a set of tapestries to impress the smirking snobs at court. His blue-blooded wife, Geneviève, on the other hand, prefers gentle unicorns and maidens. In her most famous novel, Girl with a Pearl Earring, Tracy Chevalier.
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Chevalier, whose bestselling Girl with a Pearl Earring showed how a picture can inspire thousands of words, yokes her limpid, quietly enthralling storytelling to the six Lady and the Unicorn tapestries that hang in the Museum of the Middle Ages in Paris. As with her Vermeer novel, she takes full creative advantage of the mystery that shrouds an extraordinary collaborative work of art. Building on the little that is known or surmised—in this case that the tapestries were most likely commissioned by the French noble Jean Le Viste and made in a workshop in Brussels at the end of the 15th century—she imagines her way into a lost world. We are introduced to Nicholas des Innocents, the handsome, irrepressibly seductive artist who designed the works for the cold Le Viste, a rich, grim social climber who bought his way into the nobility and cares more about impressing the king and his court than pleasing the wife who has disappointed him by bearing three girls and no sons. A great romance unfolds.
In lateth century Paris, a parvenu nobleman commissions a set of tapestries to impress the smirking snobs at court. Jean le Viste rather fancies a blood-stained Battle of Nancy, with his newly acquired coat of arms plastered downright mendaciously across the shields and standards of the victors. That suits the tapestries' designer - Nicholas des Innocents, talented artist and handsome slut - down to the ground. He also loves the ladies, and in the myth of the unicorn he sees not white untainted innocence but the chase and the embrace by lascivious virgins of its rampant horn. But it is not just Nicholas's reckless dreams that stitch themselves among the warp and weft. Cartoonists, weavers, dyers, financiers, even those who trim the hem, all add a dash of their own desires to the mix.
Have you ever wondered about woad, and why those who wore it seemed so menacing? The answer, according to Tracy Chevalier's researches, lies less in its appearance than its intolerable smell. Woad was powerfully foul. To stabilise the blue colour of his dye, the woad-merchant used fermented sheep's urine: the aroma preceded him everywhere and few could bear his company. Thus woadmongers could attract mates only from within their immediate families, with the result that succeeding generations became increasingly unappealing. This is one of those classic Chevalier byways, first used to great effect in Girl with a Pearl Earring.