The Unicorn in Captivity
Adorning the walls of the Queen's Inner Hall, Stirling Castle.
The Unicorn Tapestries in Stirling Castle are reproductions of original medieval tapestries from the South Netherlands, owned by the Comtes de la Rochefoucauld for centuries, but donated to New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art by the Rockefeller family. They now appear in The Cloisters.
It is believed that James and Mary owned a similar set of unicorn-themed tapestries. The Cloisters' Unicorn Tapestries are the best remaining set of such works.
' "The Unicorn in Captivity" may have been created as a single image rather than part of a series. In this instance, the unicorn probably represents the beloved tamed. He is tethered to a tree and constrained by a fence, but the chain is not secure and the fence is low enough to leap over: The unicorn could escape if he wished. Clearly, however, his confinement is a happy one, to which the ripe, seed-laden pomegranates in the tree—a medieval symbol of fertility and marriage—testify. The red stains on his flank do not appear to be blood, as there are no visible wounds like those in the hunting series; rather, they represent juice dripping from bursting pomegranates above. Many of the other plants represented here, such as wild orchid, bistort, and thistle, echo this theme of marriage and procreation: they were acclaimed in the Middle Ages as fertility aids for both men and women.' (Quote from the Metropolitan Museum of Art).