Featured Work of Art
The Unicorn Is Attacked is one of a series of seven tapestries that have been displayed at The Cloisters since its opening in 1938. Probably designed in Paris and woven in the southern Netherlands around 1500, the tapestries are among the greatest works to survive from the period and they are a favorite of visitors to The Cloisters. Peter Barnet, Michel David-Weill Curator in Charge of Medieval Art and The Cloisters, recently spoke with Met News editor Jennette Mullaney about this beloved tapestry.
"The seven tapestries were once thought to constitute a single series, but they seem to break down into smaller groups. The Unicorn Is Attacked is one of four tapestries that belong to the largest of these. They all depict a unicorn hunt set in a landscape with a stream in the foreground below and the sky above. … In The Unicorn Is Attacked, sometimes called The Unicorn Leaps across the Stream, the unicorn is trying to escape the hunters who surround it with lances and a variety of weapons. The hunters are accompanied by realistically depicted hunting dogs. The unicorn was associated with Christ in the Middle Ages and the four tapestries in this group can be understood as an allegory of the Passion of Christ. Late medieval Passion literature, for example, describes the tormenters of Christ as dogs."
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Image: The Unicorn Is Attacked, ca. 1495–1505. South Netherlandish. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Gift of John D. Rockefeller Jr. 1937 (37.80.3).
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Rebirth in Japanese Art
The Birth of the Buddha
The nativity, with its symbolism of cosmic renewal, is one of the most important events in the story of the Buddha’s life. This rare and unusual 14th-century painting most likely decorated a temple hall as part of a complete cycle of events from his life used to instruct worshippers.
Learn more about Japanese representations of the life of the Buddha and works of art associated with Zen Buddhism. You may also be interested in a general introduction to Buddhism and Buddhist art. Or join us for a gallery talk on Friday, April 3, What is a Buddha?
Images of Nature
Japanese art is replete with images of the seasons designed to celebrate their beauty and evanescent character. Depictions of nature abound in the Shinto and Buddhist art of this country. The Japanese galleries at the Met display a number of beautiful screens with images of birds, flowers, and trees. When visiting, please keep in mind that the objects in these galleries are on a rotating schedule and some may not be available for viewing.
Image: The Birth of the Buddha, Muromachi period (1392–1573), ca. 1400.
Unidentified artist, Japan. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Gift of Alvin Friedman-Kien, 1993 (1993.478.1).
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Fertility in Latin American Art
Water Deity (Chalchiuhtlcue)
The Aztecs established themselves in the great central highland Basin of Mexico in the early 14th century. Two hundred years later, they were the political overlords of much of the country. Aztec-style sculpture proliferated throughout central Mexico, and deity images existed in quantity at sacred places such as caves, springs, and roadside shrines. Among them were female fertility figures that represent Chalchiuhtlcue, goddess of water and springs.
Many other breathtaking examples of Aztec stone sculpture have survived the ravages of time and iconoclastic campaigns. Read more about sculpture in the round and portrayals of mythological figures in Mesoamerican and Central American art.
Latin American Film for Children
On April 18, the Museum presents The Legend of the Nahuala, an animated film presented in collaboration with the 10th Havana Film Festival in New York. The film is in Spanish with English subtitles and is free with Museum admission. For reservations, please call 212-650-2833 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Image: Water Deity (Chalchiuhtlcue), 15th–early 16th century. Mexico; Aztec. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Museum Purchase, 1900 (00.5.72).
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The Cycle of Life in Oceanic Art
The most spectacular sculptures of the Asmat people of southwest New Guinea are the ancestor bis poles. Made only in a limited area of the Asmat region, bis poles were, and still are, created as the focal points of memorial feasts honoring individuals who have recently died and become ancestors.
See a video on the Met’s YouTube channel of the delicate reinstallation process of bis poles in the New Galleries for Oceanic Art. Learn more about the Asmat and their artistic traditions, including the meaning behind many of their spectacular wood carvings.
Sunday at the Met–Celebrating the New Galleries for Oceanic Art
April 5, beginning at 3:00 p.m.
The Museum’s New Galleries for Oceanic Art underwent an extensive three-year renovation, reopening in late 2007. The redesigned space allows the Museum to display one of the world’s premier collections of the arts of the Pacific Islands. These talks highlight the reinstallation of the galleries and the evolving processes involved in gallery design and object conservation.
For more information on Oceanic and Pacific art, browse through this collection of scholarly essays.
Image: Bis Pole, late 1950s. Asmat people, Omadesep village, New Guinea, Papua (Irian Jaya) Province, Indonesia. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979 (1979.206.1611).
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Renaissance in Northern European Art
Devotional images of Christ as Salvator Mundi, or "Savior of the World," were especially popular in Northern Europe. Christ raises his right hand in blessing and in his left holds an orb representing the earth. Albrecht Dürer probably began this painting shortly before he departed for Italy in 1505, but completed only the drapery.
Although a brilliant painter, Dürer’s innovations in the medium of printmaking may constitute his greatest artistic achievement, as this essay explains. Those interested in learning more about Dürer may wish to attend the subscription lecture, Works of Art in the Metropolitan: Adam and Eve, on Tuesday, April 7. The lecture will explore Dürer’s skills and influences through a close reading of his acclaimed master engraving, Adam and Eve. Tickets are $23.
Free Concert in the Galleries
Enjoy a free concert in the The André Mertens Galleries for Musical Instruments on Wednesday, April 8 at 3:30 p.m. Loretta Kelley will perform music from a centuries-old living tradition on the Norwegian Hardanger fiddle. View a beautiful Hardanger fiddle from the Museum’s collection.
Image: Salvator Mundi. Albrecht Dürer (German, 1471–1528). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. The Friedsam Collection, Bequest of Michael Friedsam, 1931 (32.100.64).
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