Karel Appel, 'Femmes, enfants, animaux,' 1951: oil on jute, 170 x 280 cm © Cobra Museum voor Moderne Kunst Amstelveen
Individual Articles

“Thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns:” The Biblical Unicorn in Late Medieval Religious Interpretation

Julia Weitbrecht

Abstract


This article investigates the 'allegorical hunt of the unicorn' in late medieval visual and narrative art. The existence of the unicorn in biblical lore is an important factor in how the unicorn has been integrated into Christian symbolism. By expanding the narrative connection between hunting, virginity, and taming provided by Physiologus, the allegorical interpretations turn the taming of the wild unicorn into signifying the incarnation of Christ. This influential interpretation enables an overlaying of allegorical meanings in various media. In this process, knowledge is organized into clusters of meaning in which the creature functions as a dynamic reservoir of knowledge. This perspective allows for a deeper understanding of the functions of animals (or more specifically, human-animal relations) in medieval Christian interpretation.

Keywords

Unicorn; Allegorical Hunt of the Unicorn; Annunciation; Beschlossen gart des Rosenkrantz Marie; Human-Animal Relationships

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.13130/interfaces-05-05

NBN: http://nbn.depositolegale.it/urn%3Anbn%3Ait%3Aunimi-24464

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