Archive for August, 2013

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Greatness of Green

Cloister Garth Garden

Leila Osmani, a security guard who has worked at The Cloisters for six years, gazes out into Cuxa cloister garth garden in the morning before the Museum opens. In the Middle Ages, this garden would have provided the monks with refreshment and nourishment.

In the Middle Ages the color green symbolized rebirth, life, everlasting life, nature, and spring. I think it is fair to say that these attributions hold true to this day.

The twelfth-century mystic and theologian Hugh of St. Victor believed that green was the “most beautiful of all the colours” and a “symbol of Spring and an image of rebirth.” His theory was supported by William of Auvergne, who said the color “lies halfway between white, which dilates the eye, and black, which makes it contract,” creating a calm sensation, especially when viewed in great expanse.

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Friday, August 9, 2013

Hunting Pinks


The ragged pink shown above, also known as Seguieri’s pink or broad-leaved pink, is native to southwestern Europe. This prettily fringed, or “pinked,” flower is one of three species of dianthus depicted in the Unicorn Tapestries. But is this dianthus, grown from seed just this year, the wild pink depicted in the detail from The Hunters Enter the Woods below?

The little pink growing in a pot on the parapet in Bonnefont garden was started from seed by gardener Esme Webb, who is responsible for propagation at The Cloisters. As has been the practice here for many years, we compare what we believe to be the medieval species procured with representations of that plant in the art collection. Although the seed we obtained from a European seed house was identified as Dianthus seguieri, the single flower borne on this young plant either lacks the white blotching characteristic of this species altogether, or has blotching so minimal as to be imperceptible. Read more »