The Unicorn in Captivity
“The Unicorn Tapestries” are a collection of tapestries from the Middle Ages that are considered among the most beautiful and complex works of art to come from the time period. Through the ages, these tapestries somehow withstood the test of time along with a lot of the turmoil that caused many art pieces of the time period to be lost or destroyed. They were made of fine wool and silk with silver and gilded threads and depict scenes associated with a hunt for the elusive and magical unicorn. “The Unicorn in Captivity”, although part of the seven piece collection of tapestries, was most likely created as a single print rather than part of a series. The unicorn here represents the beloved and since it is held in captivity it is believed that it represents the beloved tamed. This captivity, according to the tapestry, appears to be willing as there are many ways for the unicorn to escape such as simply leaping over the low fence. However, the unicorn is at peace in confinement and chooses to stay. There is bountiful fruit (pomegranates are the fruit used here) within the trees dripping their juices onto the unicorn and flowers are blooming all around the unicorn and the fenced in area. These flowers which include orchids, thistle, and bistort as well as the fruits all represent fertility as they were commonly used during this time period to promote fertility and marriage. Hiding in the violets in the lower right if you look carefully enough you will find a frog. Frogs were also used to represent fertility as their loud mating calls were what Middle Age artists would be referencing here. Overall, this beautiful piece of artwork signifies the importance of marriage and contentment within marriage while promoting the fertility and well-being of the marriage.