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11 May 2017 / leggypeggy

A quick trip to the Middle Ages

The Lady and the Unicorn, Taste, dog

Detail of dog in tapestry on Taste

The Lady and the Unicorn Taste tapestry

The whole Taste tapestry

The National Medieval Art Museum in Paris, also known as the Musée Cluny, holds one of Europe’s most important collections dedicated to the arts, daily life, and social and religious history of the Middle Ages in France.

It’s also one of the few places in Paris that Poor John and I agreed we had to visit again on this trip.

So we set out on a rainy morning, umbrellas in hand, to walk about 40 minutes from Libby’s flat to the museum. It’s amazing how compact much of Paris is, and how easy it is to get around on foot or using buses or the underground Metro.

Soon enough (and dry enough) we reached the museum, which is housed in the gothic-style Hôtel de Cluny, a 15th century mansion which was itself built atop the foundations of Roman thermal baths.

I should mention here that use of the word ‘hôtel’ for almost any old structure in France usually refers to a mansion or house and not an actual hotel.

Anyway, there were some renovations being carried out so admission was about 8 euros, which is less than usual I think.

One of our main aims was to revisit the iconic Flanders tapestries known as The Lady and the Unicorn. I devoted an entire post to our last viewing of these magnificent tapestries, so most of the pics I’ve chosen for today are tapestry close-ups and other museum pieces.

For example, there is a large altar piece from the 15th century and stained glass panels from the 12th and 13th centuries. Many of the panels come from important chapels and churches, including Sainte-Chapelle and Saint Denis.

Other fine tapestries show aspects of daily life and celebrations. One room displays the choir stalls from the church of Saint-Lucian at Beauvais and the Saint Etienne’s Tapestry set. This set was woven around 1500 for the Cathedral of Auxerre.

Statue of Adam, Musée Cluny

Reading the labels for statue of Adam

There is a small collection of jewellery, and precious Romanesque and Gothic sculptures made of stone, wood and ivory, as well as remarkable examples of medieval metalwork. Some ivories date back to the 4th century.

Sadly some of the statues are in pieces. There are the heads of kings without bodies and plenty of bodies without heads. The frigidarium (cold room) is an enormous vaulted space with a ceiling soaring almost 15 metres high.  The room is a major remnant of the northern thermal baths of Lutetia, and has been extensively renovated.

In fact, much of the museum is currently being renovated and we couldn’t get to all the places and see all the items from our visit in 2015. I’ve included several images from that previous visit.

40 Comments

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  1. lexklein / May 11 2017 4:46 am

    Those old tapestries always impress me with their level of detail and the colors that have stood the test of time.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. beetleypete / May 11 2017 4:55 am

    Well worth a visit, Peggy. Lovely artifacts, and the stained glass is beautiful.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Rashminotes / May 11 2017 4:55 am

    The collection is amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The Year I Touched My Toes / May 11 2017 6:53 am

    The actual space looks absolutely stunning Peggy.Reading the labels for Adam and the four photos underneath that look beautiful, all the stone, high ceilings and the beautiful light.

    Must feel good to be able to post almost as soon as it happens for a change.Must be the combination of the place, the weather and the type of break you are having with Libby there.Nice.Ooh and I love the colours in the D shaped stain glass and the circular one next to it. I think the simplicity of their drawing makes them stand out compared to the glass piece above. Or maybe not? Sorry ex – art teacher ramblings there. Louise

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 11 2017 2:08 pm

      Oh wow, it’s great to have ex-art teacher share comments. Allows me to look at pieces in a new way. And I agree, the space is amazing. Those photos with Adam are in the Frigidarium.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. spearfruit / May 11 2017 7:53 am

    The collection is beautiful and the structure is amazing. Thanks Peggy for the tour.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. wfdec / May 11 2017 7:54 am

    I reckon I will never have enough years left to see even a tiny bit of what I would like to see. At least I can read your posts.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Sherry Thomas / May 11 2017 7:56 am

    Thanks Peggy!
    Hi to family from me!
    Love,
    S.
    P.s. When you get home we really, really, really need to skype!

    Sent from my iPad

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 11 2017 2:09 pm

      Yes, to the hellos to family and yes to Skype. Home on 25 June.

      Like

  8. gerard oosterman / May 11 2017 8:30 am

    Yes, that is very interesting. So nice to spend time in a place were time stood still and able to go back in time when beauty reigned above all. One wonders what people will look back on during our time here in a thousands years or so. What will they be peering at?

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / May 11 2017 2:12 pm

      Gerard, that’s a wonderful observation. No doubt, they’ll be looking at what hasn’t yet fallen down, but I wonder what that might be?

      Like

  9. shehannemoore / May 11 2017 8:41 am

    Some beautiful images here, thanks for posting Leggypeggy. Your travels are always amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. neveradullbling / May 11 2017 9:44 am

    I just love museums. Great pictures, 😁

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Vicki / May 11 2017 11:03 am

    Wonderful images and what a great place to visit. I didn’t see it back in the 70s when in Paris. I’m fascinated by Medieval tapestries (and Medieval Herbal Garden design or the Physic Gardens) and the daily life around Medieval England, so I’m sure to have enjoyed this wonderful museum you’re sharing set in France.

    The Taste Tapestry looks fascinating. I wonder how many hands and how many years it took to finish.

    (The Cadfael dvd series which I re-watch regularly and the thesis I wrote on the History of Herbal Medicine in the early 1990s are evidence of this interest).

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 11 2017 2:16 pm

      The tapestries are amazing and I have pictures of others that I didn’t show here. Shall I send them to you? And, if you haven’t had a chance yet, be sure to go back to my original post which shows all six The Lady and the Unicorn tapestries.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Vicki / May 11 2017 6:35 pm

        Yes Please Peggy. (victoriaaa1233 at gmail.com)
        and I’ll check out the original The Lady & the Unicorn tapestries too.

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / May 12 2017 5:50 am

        Will do when I have a better connection tomorrow. Have altered your email so it doesn’t attract spam.

        Like

  12. Andrew Petcher / May 11 2017 4:36 pm

    Looks interesting. Thanks for the addition to my ‘to do’ list!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Dorothy / May 11 2017 5:11 pm

    Love the detail in the tapestry. Amazing work. Pity the kings heads have been used for target practise over the years.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 12 2017 5:36 am

      The tapestries are wonderful and, as you so accurately pointed out, the kings haven’t done well at all. 🙂

      Like

  14. theunassuminghiker / May 11 2017 7:51 pm

    Very impressive tapestry work, thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. sathwika / May 13 2017 12:06 am

    That was a great collection…

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 13 2017 1:42 am

      It’s an amazing collection. I guess that’s why we had to visit again.

      Like

  16. Sharon Bonin-Pratt / May 13 2017 2:55 pm

    Loved this visit with you, thank you. I recently read The Lady and the Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier. Of course it’s fiction but she did a lot of research about how the actual tapestries were made, essentially upside down on a loom that got rolled as each section was completed. The weavers them selves didn’t get to see the completed tapestry until they unrolled the entire piece and turned it over, hoping their work was as gorgeous as they’d imagined. To see them here is so lovely.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 13 2017 3:40 pm

      Thanks so much for the tip about the book. Maybe I can find it when I get home. I can barely imagine the suspense the weavers must have felt waiting for the final reveal.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sharon Bonin-Pratt / May 14 2017 9:04 am

        The best parts of the book dealt with all the issues the weavers faced but I won’t spoil it for you. It’s not a long read.

        Liked by 1 person

  17. milliethom / May 15 2017 7:23 am

    Tapestries are amazing, not only for being beautiful to look at, but as historical evidence. Those ladies were so clever with their needles! This museum sounds like one I’d love to visit, Peggy and hopefully, we’ll get over to Paris at some point. The other arefacts and stained glass windows look beautiful, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 15 2017 3:41 pm

      Oh Millie, I count this as one of the top museums in Paris so I hope you get there soon.

      Like

  18. Catnip Blog / May 15 2017 1:21 pm

    I liked the Heads of Kings . . . !!!!! Glad you squeezed them into the post. You are making me yearn for a trip to France.

    Liked by 1 person

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