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The Lady with the Unicorn

The Lady and the Unicorn (French: La Dame à la licorne) is the title of a cycle of French tapestries often considered one of the greatest works of art of the Middle Ages in Europe. They are estimated to have been woven in the late 15th century (c. 1490), in Flanders.

The tapestries are commonly interpreted as depicting the six senses - taste, hearing, sight, smell, touch, and "A mon seul désir" (meaning: "to my only desire"), often interpreted as love or understanding. Each of the six tapestries depicts a noble lady with the unicorn and some include a monkey or a lion in the scene. The pennants, as well as the armor of the Unicorn and Lion in the tapestry bear the arms of the sponsor, Jean Le Viste, a powerful nobleman in the court of King Charles VII.

The tapestries were rediscovered in 1841 by Prosper Mérimée in Boussac castle (at the time, the subprefect of the Creuse) where they had been suffering damage from their storage conditions. Novelist George Sand brought public attention to the tapestries in her works at the time. The cycle is currently held in the Musée Cluny (Musée du Moyen-Age), Paris (France), where it has resided since 1882.

These tapestries are also the central theme of the novels "The Lady and the Unicorn" by Tracy Chevalier, and "The Seventh Unicorn" by Kelly Jones.

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