The Lady and the Unicorn – Tracy Chevalier

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I started reading this book a couple of years ago, but I stopped after one of the first scenes, when the daughter of the rich customer tried to make sex with the Painted under a table, just after having exchanged few words. But I began again to read it in these days because I am exploring through other books the art worlds: this novel is made up, but I know that Tracy Chevalier is an accurate history researcher in this branch.

Actually she clearly showed the links between the artists (in this case, a painter) and the craftsmen (in this case, the weaver, the Lissier who prepares the arras), but also between the customer (the rich bourgeois) and the merchant, and she explained the odd rules that bound the Bruxelles craftsmen that worked in the guilds.

What I understood from this novel is how the artist role was transparent in thos years (end of XV century) and far away from ours. Nicolas Des Innocents, the painter, is not so famous and he doesn’t consider his art as something miracolous or divine: it is just the way he earns money. He must obey the client and the merchant and the weavers do not consider him like a very important person, except for the fact that he comes from Paris.

I appreciated that the painter did not “compromise” the virtue of the customer’s daughter: it was more realistic that he went with prostitutes and the blind daughter of the weaver! As all those successions were made up by the writer, I like that they are not too exhagerated!

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