Wednesday, September 7, 2016

"The Unicorn in Captivity": Using paintings for Tapestry

The thing that attracted me to this painting was not only the fact that it is about one of my favorite mythical beings, but also how simple the symbolism is in it. The main focus of the painting appears to be two to three things. One, the most obvious, is the unicorn. The unicorn appears to be calm and in a laying position. There appears to be a buckle or collar around it's neck. The second thing is the fence that is imprisoning the unicorn. The third possible focus is the pomegranate tree towering over the unicorn within the fence. At first, I thought the tree was outside of the fence, but that changed once I took a closer look. If the tree were painted outside the fence, it may have given a different meaning, as I believe the tree symbolizes a sense of growth and rebirth out of captivity. 

The background of the painting appears to have the most color with different shades of green, yellow, red, and orange to make up flowers and plants around the fence and unicorn. This can represent a forest and life that continues to grow in the world that the unicorn is cut off from. The artist used some negative space as an outline for the tree and a much lighter shade of green to make it stand out more from the background. The only thing that seems to get lost in the painting is some of the flowers, with the exception of a few pops of color, like red or orange, here and there. 

When doing a bit of research, I discovered that this painting was used as a tapestry design and is a part of a series called, "The Unicorn Tapestries" or, "The Hunt of the Unicorn". This painting is one of seven and based upon the lore of capturing a unicorn by baiting it with a virgin and then fencing it in once it's fallen asleep on her lap. The symbolism of this painting is also based on religious beliefs of the resurrection of Christ, the church, fertility, and love. No specific artist for this piece of work has been named.

I think using a painting as a design for tapestry is a very interesting technique. This was apparently done by placing the painting behind threads or large wool-and-silk hangings and the design was then copied onto the clothe (p.29). I am really curious as to how the designs were actually copied onto the clothes. By that I mean, with what tools and such.

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