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The Lady and the Unicorn: Decorative arts and the world of medieval France

March 03, 2018 @ 10:30 AM - 12:00 PM

Speaker: Dr Michael Adcock and Dr Kathleen Olive
Cost: Free

The Lady and the Unicorn tapestries, on display at AGNSW from February to June, are amongst the most famous and well-loved works of medieval art. Join Academy Travel Tour Leaders Dr Kathleen Olive and Dr Michael Adcock at Mosman Art Gallery, as they discuss the fascinating history and cultural contexts that informs these masterpieces, helping you see more in one of France’s national treasures.

Lecture 1: Dr Michael Adcock

While most would readily concede that both Louis XIV and Napoleon III in their own time had a major impact upon the development of Paris, it can also be argued that it was actually the initiative of King Philippe Auguste (reigned 1180-1223) that truly transformed Paris from an ordinary city amongst many others, into a true capital of the nation. In this lecture, Dr Michael Adcock explores the lost vestiges of medieval Paris, such as the Wall of Phillippe Auguste, as well as key monuments, such as Notre-Dame Cathedral and the Sainte-Chapelle, and conclude with an explanation of the Cluny Museum, France’s museum of medieval history, including the Lady with the Unicorn Tapestries.

Lecture 2: Dr Kathleen Olive

The growth of the burgher class in the Middle Ages – due in part to brisk trade, guild reorganisation and more sophisticated education – ensured that by the 15th century a new type of consumer culture had spread across northern Europe and Italy. Well-to-do merchants, bankers and even higher-order artisans looked to signal their wealth and sophistication through conspicuous consumption, much of it destined for interior decoration in their comfortable domestic spaces. In this lecture, Dr Kathleen Olive explores the decorative style of the 14th and 15th century in France, Burgundy and northern Italy. From costly tapestries to their cheaper equivalents in fresco, to small but lavish devotional altarpieces, extraordinary metalwork, and costly enamels, we embark upon a re-evaluation of the so-called “minor arts” of the Middle Ages.


March 3, 2018
10:30 am - 12:00 pm


Dr Michael Adcock and Dr Kathleen Olive


Mosman Art Gallery
Art Gallery Way & Myahgah Road
Mosman, Mosman 2088 Australia
+ Google Map
(02) 9978 4178


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