VIDEO. Expo event in Toulouse: how the Lady with the Unicorn, the most famous medieval tapestry in the world, landed at the Abattoirs
Initially planned in a prestigious museum in New York, the exhibition of the Lady with the Unicorn will be held at the Musée des Abattoirs in Toulouse, from October 30. How does this 500-year-old, ultra-fragile work, which has only left its Parisian museum three times, end up in Toulouse?
The “Lady with the Unicorn” has only left the Middle Ages museum three times at the Hôtel de Cluny in Paris. In 1973 for New York, in 2013 for Tokyo, and in 2018 for Sydney… Toulouse residents are therefore in the “big leagues”, by receiving this gem. This is the first exhibition of the canvas in a French museum, outside of Paris. Why ? Its Parisian setting being under construction, the “Lady” was expected to travel abroad, as is the tradition for major works, from 2020. The New York “Met” was once again expected, but the crisis of the Covid upset. And makes Toulouse happy. Several French museums were contacted, because starting from abroad had become too complicated, explains the management of the Parisian museum.
Several French museums contacted, Toulouse wins the decision
The partnership with the Toulouse Museum of Augustins, for an exhibition in 2022, will win the decision. The Augustins also under construction, an idea germinated: to show this medieval work in the contemporary art museum of the Abattoirs. A nice wink. For the general director of the museum of the alleys Charles de Fitte, it is a blessing. The perfect opportunity to engage him in dialogue with Picasso’s stage curtain, “The remains of the Minotaur in Harlequin habit”.
Saved by George Sand, listed as a historic monument by Prosper Mérimée
The “Lady with the Unicorn” arrived a fortnight ago, in six separate convoys, for as many hangings that make it up, in isothermal boxes. And will not leave until 2022.
The six tapestries that make up the “Lady with the Unicorn” were woven in the 15th century for the Le Viste family, originally from Lyon but well established in Paris. The major work has survived the centuries, was housed for a long time in a castle in the Creuse, where it was “saved” by George Sand and Prosper Mérimée. It has belonged since 1882 to the Museum of the Middle Ages in Paris. The opportunity is unique, don’t miss it.