Unraveling “The Unicorn Tapestries” with Danielle Oteri
To keep safe from the plague, medieval doctors said windows must be shut and covered to block any drafts of air carrying the deadly miasma. Wealthy aristocrats commissioned thick tapestries to protect from the outside and project a rich fantasy world to those gazing upon them from the inside. The industry of tapestry production grew rapidly following the Black Death of 1348 and reached a high point around 1500 with “The Unicorn Tapestries”, a set of seven weavings described as “the greatest inheritance of the Middle Ages.
They are among the most intricate, beautiful and complex works of art from the last Middle Ages that have survived. Luxuriously woven in fine wool and silk with gilded silver threads, the tapestries vividly portray scenes associated with a hunt for a magical yet elusive unicorn. This conversation will introduce these seven tapestries, placing the artworks in historical context and commenting on the stories that are seen within the complicated threads.
Led by Danielle Oteri, an expert on art, food and history of Southern Italy, this interactive seminar will educate listeners to this unusual and intriguing topic. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will see each one of the seven Unicorn Tapestries in detail and hear the many stories about their mysterious origins.
Danielle Oteri is an expert on Roman, medieval and Renaissance art. She was a Lecturer at the Met Cloisters for fifteen years and has been Program Director of the International Center of Medieval Art since 2008. Danielle has written about art, history, food and travel for Conde Nast Traveler, Gothamist, NPR and Roads & Kingdoms. She is the founder of Feast on History and Arthur Avenue Food Tours.