Above: Three details from The Unicorn in Captivity, 1495???1505, South Netherlandish; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of John D. Rockefeller Jr., 1937 (37.80.6).
Many of the superbly rendered plants and flowers depicted in The Unicorn in Captivity are botanically correct: most are detailed portraits of individual species that are lifelike enough to be immediately identifiable; a number of others are somewhat stylized depictions that conform to a recognizable convention, and a few are so highly stylized that they can’t be given a specific identity. Medieval tapestries as late in date as this one (about the year 1500) have a much higher proportion of recognizable plants than millefleurs tapestries of the early fifteenth century, in which many if not all of the plants may be highly stylized generic types, rather than naturalistically rendered botanical species. Read more »