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The Hunters Return to the Castle


Hillary Smith
by The Metropolitan Museum of Art
published on 21 October 2020
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"The Hunters Return to the Castle" is one of seven tapestries in the "Unicorn Tapestries" group. These allegorical tapestries depict the hunting of a unicorn, a mythological animal common to European folklore. "The Hunters Return to the Castle" is a scene in two parts: it shows the death of the unicorn in the upper left corner, and the unicorn’s body, draped over the back of a horse, being presented to the lord and lady of the castle in the foreground. By the Middle Ages, the unicorn had acquired religious connotations, and was occasionally used as an allegorical symbol for Christ. The holly tree and thorny oak branches depicted in this tapestry are perhaps hinting at the Passion of Christ and the Crown of Thorns.

The tapestries originally belonged the Le Rochefoucald family of France, and the earliest record of them confirms that they were hanging in the Paris home of François VI de La Rochefoucauld (1613 - 1680 CE) by 1680 CE. The tapestries are thought to have been woven in Brussels between 1495 – 1505 CE, although they were designed in Paris, France.

The Unicorn Tapestries are now held by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and are housed in the Met Cloisters.

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Cite This Work

APA Style

Art, T. M. M. o. (2020, October 21). The Hunters Return to the Castle. World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from

Chicago Style

Art, The Metropolitan Museum of. "The Hunters Return to the Castle." World History Encyclopedia. Last modified October 21, 2020.

MLA Style

Art, The Metropolitan Museum of. "The Hunters Return to the Castle." World History Encyclopedia. World History Encyclopedia, 21 Oct 2020. Web. 13 Apr 2021.

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