Monday, February 18, 2008

The Lady and the Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier

library book
This story is "woven" around the six Lady and the Unicorn tapestries that hang in the Museum of the Middle Ages in Paris. Research shows 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. Nicholas des Innocents, the handsome artist designs the paintings for Le Viste, who cares more about impressing the king and his court than pleasing his wife. Le Viste's wife, Genevieve, tells Nicholas to paint scenes with a unicorn. He does so, but uses the faces of Le Viste's daughter and wife. The paintings are taken to Brussels for weaving into tapestries. The family we meet there, to me, are the most sympathetic characters in the book. I like the details Chevalier gives concerning the social customs of the time and, especially, the craft of weaving as it was practiced in Brussels.

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