Results 1-10of 11 Reviews
by Sammy Lagios
Kineta, Attica, Greece
August 25, 2010
January 26, 2006
Particular masterpieces of art exercise such universal fascination that it is difficult to consider them objectively. The six panels that compose the tapestry piece "La Dames à la Licorne" fall into this indefinable delightful category. Undoubtedly there has been a recent surge in the popularity of these pieces with colorful account of the tapestry’s conception and execution in the recent best selling historical fiction workThe Lady and the Unicorn by Tracey Chevalier.exhibition signage
The Museum has enhanced the fascination by displaying the works in a specially conceived and constructed circular room to encircle the viewer. The combined effects of the subdued lighting and the gentle warm glow of the lighting imbued the room with a sense of calm and reverence. Speaking tones are hushed and movements subdued as the visitor enters the exhibit.chambre circulaire
The tapestries’ cartoon was known to have drawn in Paris and made in Flanders in the late 15th century. The tapestry was re-discovered in the 19th century by the illustrious writer, George Sand. She saw it on several occasions at a chateau in Boussac, France. All the tapestries feature a lithe, elegant lady accompanied by a docile unicorn, a cuddly lion and a mischievous monkey and boasts the pennant of the LeViste family with three crescent moons.LeViste coat-of-arms
In taste, the lady chooses a sweet for a golden dish held by her maid while the monkey pops a stolen candy into his mouth.Hearing shows the lady plays an organ as her maid pumps the bellows.In sight,, the unicorn is mesmerized by his image in the mirror held by the lady.Smell has the young lady weaving a wreath of flowers while the monkey sits nearby in a basket, pressing a bloom to his nose.In the tapestry that portrays the sense of touch, the woman delicately holds the horn of the unicorn in her left hand.cheeky monkey
In the enigmatic sixth panel the young lady is depicted in front of a tent emblazoned with the banner that reads À mon seul Désir, "To my sole desire". Her hand is resting in a cask of jewels. Is the lady renouncing the riches, putting them back in their container or is she greedily taking them? What ever you choose to believe, visitors of all ages will enjoy these celebrated portrayals of medieval life in allegory. But, to truly get the most of seeing these tapestries, I would highly recommend reading some something about its iconography and history. There is so much delightful complex meaning hidden in this seemingly simple textile.
From journal Paris Medieval Intrigue: Musée national du Moyen Age-Cluny Museum
There is a tiny abbey room that is literally chock-full of textiles that are related to Catholic religious ceremonial use. This genre of textile and artifacts dominate the museum due to the fact that during the Middle Ages ecclesiastical patronage was one way of showing off wealth, power, and spirituality. That frame of mind and the irresistible charm of cloth in the Middle Ages produced works of a quality nearly still unmatched throughout history. Red velvet chasuble embroidered in gold and silver silk thread from 15th-century Flanders.Beautifully ornate examples of the clothing that the priests and bishops donned to perform the Holy Mass and other lesser religious ceremonies lined several life-sized glass cases. One of the most flamboyant examples of this wearable decor I experienced was a liturgical Mitre worn by a high ranking clergy, very possibly the Bishop of Cluny. The scene of the Visit of the Magi, the Annunciation, and about a dozen lesser holy people were prominently stitched, painted, beaded, and quilted into what once had been a luxurious white silk and velvet canvas. Though it was timeworn, it still was a definite stunner. This particular mitre was designed and executed in the 14th century and comes from the Treasury of the Church of St-Chapelle in Paris.Bishop’s mitre from the Treasury of the Church of St-Chapelle.One of the most engaging, vibrant, and striking tapestries I viewed was a 16th-century piece from the Netherlands called "La Promenade," depicting a group of men and women dressed in elegant 16th-century attire out for a stroll in the forest. The rich colors of their costumes are stunning against the dark green-and-blue mille fleurs woodland background. "La Vie Seigneuriale"This tapestry was one of a six-piece mille fleurs series called "La Vie Seigneuriale," or The Manorial Life. These mille fleurs tapestries owe their names to the multitude of plants and flowers spread over them, most often of a blue-black or green-black color. The were dozens of other tapestries to love, one more colorful and intricate than the next. But you will have to go see for yourself!"The departure of the Prodigal Son"This museum’s most sumptuous and famous offering of mille fleurs tapestries, La Dames à la Licorne, or the Lady and the Unicorn, series is described in the following journal.
Stained glass pieces for windows or doors involves three techniques for their execution: painting and application of grisaille(the black outlines and shading), firing to fix the painting on the glass and retouching after it comes out of the kiln. It is a marvel to me that these fragile masterpieces have survived that passage of so many centuries.sweet saint on horesback
Stained glass is closely linked to Gothic architecture and comprised of pieces of glass set in lead, and the piece held tight by cames which were replaced in the 15th century by stone mullions. The stained glass artifacts exhibit here fascinated me with their brilliance and sophistication of their coloring. St-jeanne d'arc
Usually when you think of looking at this type of artistry, you are looking a great distance away, craning your neck or using your telephoto to get a decent view of the window way on high in a church. In this museum it was an in-your-face experience where it was all within your reach.who is this devil on horseback?
The creator of the exhibition space that houses the stained glass collection gave a lot of thoughtful care into its conception and execution. The space was dark throughout with the precious jeweled-toned works cleverly illuminated with just enough wattage to showcase each treasure to its best advantage. However, the viewer is also taken into consideration, as the designers provided a comfortable grab-bar to grasp while viewing, so while you are enthralled with the lovely colorful glass narratives, you don’t tip over in the darkened space. Out of the dozens of lovely religious representations I viewed, the stained glass design that appealed to me the most was the little rather unlovely, off-beat circular window depicting devil on horseback. No accounting for taste, I guess.the horse seem a little annonyed to be carring a devil
The museum contains a variety of secular and religious sculptures in an assortment of materials: stone, marble, alabaster and crystal. A great number of other natural materials were also used by artists of the Middle Ages, varieties of woods, ivory and bone.Door surround from St-Germain-des-Prés.The sculptures located in the room designated as the Concert Hall are what I considered the most thought-provoking in the museum’s collection. Walking through the 13th-century doorway from the lady chapel of St-Germain-des-Prés into the light, airy, bleached stone-walled space begins an experience that feels like a slice of time travel. The elegant and clever lighting is arranged to hide any traces of its source, except for the ethereal infusion of luminosity and radiance around the periphery of the room, where the statues are exhibited. In the center of the space, permanent seating is arranged for chorals and concerts, and I sat there to take in the medieval atmosphere. From that vantage point, there was no blatant evidence of the 21st century to distract my concentration. To paraphrase a cartoon character, I felt as if I was "breathing in the dust of an ancient civilization." (Okay, it was Pig Pen who said it).Ethereal lighting enhances the medieval atmosphere.One section held a dozen or so mid-11th-century Romanesque capitals standing in a row, carved in an enormous variety of motifs, from interlaced strapwork to a man on a lion, mythical beast, and a Christ in majesty. On the stage were a row of headless statues that appeared to be ready to begin a performance, relics from the oft-rebuilt church of St-Germain-des-Prés. In one corner loomed the life-size figure of Adam from a Notre-Dame-de-Paris, and in another the delicate, a curved angel from Poissy.Eve's manA new acquisition from 15th century Normandie literally took my breath away. The representation of the story of the Annunciation, although a monochrome piece, was so lifelike and lit so effectively, I swear I saw it breathe. Maybe that was the aperitif from lunch, but it was stunning. ViergeThe sculptured heads from the Notre-Dame-de-Paris are outstanding in this exhibit. They appear abstract and contemporary lined up in rows, rather like "talking heads" but had the most extraordinary tale to tell. During the revolution of 1793, the heads of these statues were decapitated from the façade of Notre-Dame, as it was thought that the figures symbolized the Kings of France and associate with the monarchy. But in 1977, 21 of the original 28 heads of the Kings of Judah were discovered by chance during construction for a new car park in the 8th Arrondissement. My talking heads.
Although the Hôtel de Cluny was one of the first urban residences to be built between a courtyard and a garden, no trace of the original garden survived the centuries. Still, museum directors sought a re-creation of these gardens. In 2000, landscape architects, Eric Ossart and Arnaud Maurières combined the poetic renderings of various facets of the medieval garden to re-establish a relationship of the building to its environment. The garden is not merely a masterpiece of flora, but continues the flamboyant architecture of the abbey and the richness of the collections into an outdoor space.
The concepts of the different sections of this garden were inspired by various pieces of the treasured art and artifacts contained in the musée. The forest of the unicorn garden is planted with the woodland species that inspired the mille fleurs in "La Dames à la Licorne" tapestry. Look for the evidence that mademoiselle was here where she left her handprint in the garden paver.
The ménagier plot contains kitchen garden plants: vegetables, herbs and vines. Its name and content was inspired by a 14th century instructional booklet for young housewives, called "Ménagier de Paris". It contains advice on cooking, plant and even praying. The other themed areas have self explanatory names: medicinal garden, a love garden, a meadow, and even a heavenly garden.Details:"The Manorial Life"
The jardin that intrigued me the most was the one called the sunken lane. Intended as a paradisiac profusion of plantings, it boasted two inspirations: the Manorial Life tapestry and the sculpture of Adam. Ferns, scolopendria, wild geraniums and a variety of other woodland plants flourish under the bushes that line the path along Boulevard St-Germain. The edge of this garden ends in the Square Paul Painlevé which belongs to the municipality of Paris. The landscapers were restricted to renewing the existing plants here and have succeeded in creating a carpet of flowers. Twenty species of perennials have been set in sequences, creating the effect of a textile woven of plants. This courtyard’s profusion of jasmine and fig trees relates to Adam efforts to hide his nakedness with the fig leaf in the first garden of earthly delights.
These gardens are a great place to rest between the intense majesty of the XVth century and the ancient artifacts of the Thermes. There are comfy cedar benches along the irrigation canals with a very pleasant view of the Hôtel de Cluny’s medieval architecture. Also to come back and experience the new garden lighting design. I regret to have missed this, but I hear that it is spectacular and worth a return trip
The abbots were wise in choosing to build alongside of the most spectacular examples of ancient city of Lutèce (Paris), the late IIInd century Thermes de Lutèce bathing complex. The adjacency of the abbey assured that these important Roman ruins remained in the exceptional state of preservation that we see them today.Formerly a section of the baths exhibits architectural fragments.
In my haste to view the just-completed historical preservation renovations that I had read about in my architectural journal, I made a rash error in judgment of only making a very cursory pass through the thermes and gardens. Before I could get back outside for more than the initial grab-shot photos, the bright blue day shifted into a dark grey deluge. thermes de Lutèce
But during inclement weather the impressive vaulted frigidarium (cold room) can still be view from within through a huge glass pane in the concert hall room and accessed for the interior. Fragments of mosaic scene called, "Love Riding a Dolphin", a frieze from a child’s sarcophagus and a statue of Roman emperor Julian are only a few of the many treasures of ancient Paris that are exhibited in the space. The tepidarium and caldarium and a section of the hypocaust system are arranged in smaller exterior rooms. mosaique ancienienne
For wonderfully reconstructed images that illustrate how Paris looked in Roman times I highly recommend that you spend some times at the website "Paris, A Roman City" http://www.paris.culture.fr/en/index.html . It contains a pictorial tour of Roman Paris, then and now, an overview of the aspects of daily Roman life in Lutèce, (including food, trade and art), archeological discoveries in Paris today, and a bibliography of publications. I wish I had read this site before my visit, but it actually gave me a better view of some of the statuary and implements in their 360- Quick-Time animations of each individual object (cool). There is nothing better to an amateur historian as getting a concrete feel for the heart and soul of your ancient ancestors that lived daily life exactly where you are standing. Outside the in the drumming of the torrent of rain, I could almost hear the Roman and Gallic voices and picture them splashing in these ancient pools.
Hôtel de Cluny was built between 1485 and 1498 by Jacques d'Amboise as the Parisian pied-a-terre for the abbots of Cluny, one of the most powerful religious orders of the Middle Ages. High crenelated walls safeguard the museum, asit once protected the privacy of the abbots.
It is closed off from the city by a blind crenelated wall, pierced only by an ancient rose-colored door and a wooden wagon gate (where the public enters). The U-shaped cobblestone courtyard directly inside the gate is a welcoming surprise. On this chilly autumn day, a colorful profusion of Rose of Sharon plants lolled on the rough stones as if wanting to absorb as much of the radiated warmth as possible.
Medieval Rose of Sharon
In one corner sat a charming ancient well topped with an delicate metal arch that holds the bucket hoist. A formerly menacing gargoyle juts out from one side of the well, and I was told that his job was to protect the water from evil spirits. But most of his original visage had been worn away by thirsty visitors, rendering him more comical than scary. This courtyard served as a model for the later hôtel particuliers (mansions) built in Paris.
Time-worn chaming well
The two stories of this Flamboyant Gothic abbey are topped by a high blue slate roof dotted with highly festooned dormers and a balustrade with a heavy overhang hides its edge. A polygonal structure protruding from the main façade serves as an entrance and encases a spiral staircase that connects the interior levels. The exterior of this turret is beautifully ornamented with dozens of Coquilles-St-Jacques (scallop shells), the symbol of St. Jacques, and the Amboise coat of arms refer to Jacques d’Amboise, the abbot that built this hôtel.
Turret decor detail: Coquilles-St-Jacques and the Amboise coat of arms
Alexandre du Sommerand, a fervent medievalist, first rented the upper floor of Hôtel de Cluny in1830 to display his collection. This collection formed the basis for the museum that was officially created in 1843, with his son Edmond du Sommerand as the first director.
Lovely Rose Door with rather unlovely lentil decor of skulls--brrrr.
I found this museum extremely organized yet diverse. It’s contents is arranged by genre as well as thematically: architectural fragments, textiles, and stained glass on the Rez-de-chaussée or ground level. Upstairs or on the Premier étage or second-floor Americaine, you will find the bulk of the collection of enamels, illuminated manuscripts, metalwork, and panel paintings. Scattered throughout the museum are the collections of carved chests,
September 18, 2005
When I saw this beauty, I had not read Tracy Chevalier’s best-selling imaginative reconstruction of what its history might have been. I would recommend reading her "The Lady and the Unicorn" as a preamble to seeing this astonishing artistic relict for her description of the painstaking weaving process by which Brussels masters created it, enhances your appreciation of it, as well as the extensive restoration that preserved it. Simply breathtaking is the much-admired final panel in its celebration of harmony and reconciliation, pulling together the primary details of this story’s depiction.
Thanks to the anti-clerical principles of the French Revolution, zealots desecrated churches throughout France and denuded them of their art. Another special room into which outside light filters features glorious examples of medieval stained glass that originally resided in various ecclesiastical establishments. Thus, you can see up close what you usually crane your neck to see dimly and imperfectly in Notre Dame of Sainte Chapelle.
Don’t miss exploring the well-signed remains of Roman baths below this museum’s building. You can see where the typical three kinds of spa rooms were--the hot, the cold, and the tepid--a Three Bears arrangement characteristic of the Latin conquerors’ spas. In December the temperature surrounding all of these plats was mainly that of a frigidarium so we limited our visit to about 20 minutes. Guests can take guided tours of these depths on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 2pm. We arrived just after opening time on a Friday and had to rely on our limited reading French to understand the ruins, so I would recommend the tour.
This was formerly called the Cluny, after Benedictine monks who lived there.
From journal PARIS PERFECT- December in the MARAIS
Todmorden, England, United Kingdom
June 8, 2002
The full name of the museum is Musée National du Moyen-Age Thermes de Cluny. The building was completed in 1500, and was a medieval mansion which incorporated the ruins of the old baths.
Having been to the Museums d'Orsay and Rodin, which I have acclaimed in other pages, I must say this seemed like coming back to earth; it was a very good museum but not utterly outstanding lke those two.
The Lady and the Unicorn tapestries are no doubt very fine. Enough critics say so, and there is certainly a phenomenal amount of workmanship in them, but they left both of us stone cold. On the other hand, we were very moved by a display of stained glass which had originally been in the Sainte Chapelle windows. The gallery of sculpted heads of the kings of Judah was also very impressive.
From journal Citybreak in Paris.