Musée National du Moyen Âge/The National Museum of the Middle Ages, Paris

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The National Museum of the Middle Ages is one of the treasures of Paris. It is located in what remains of the famous Monastery of Cluny south of the Seine (and on the site of earlier Roman thermal baths). The Museum's treasures include sculpture, stained glass, altarpieces, ivories, enamels, and an outstanding collection of textiles. The Museum's website, available in French, English and Spanish, provides a good sampling of various categories of objects in the collections-nicely presented web texts with excellent quality enlargeable photos. Relatively few of the objects displayed there are among the ones depicted below, where my focus has been textiles and ivories. The particular selection of textiles presented here is primarily from a small special exhibition devoted to Coptic ones with Dionysiac themes. Visitors to the museum cannot assume those particular objects will be on display, since it seems as though a single room is devoted to the smaller textiles and the exhibits rotate regularly due to the sensitivity of the colors to light. In other rooms there are some outstanding tapestries, including what some would argue is the single most noteworthy display, the famous Lady and the Unicorn tapestries.

For the Coptic textiles in the museum, one may consult A. Lorquin, Les Tissus coptes au musée national du Moyen Âge - thermes de Cluny (Paris, 1992).

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Fragments of a tunic with scenes from a Dionysiac procession.
Egypt, Coptic, 6th c. CE, bichrome embroidery on plain linen.
Inv. no.: Cl 16658.
Fragment of a shawl with vase motif.
Egypt, Coptic, 3rd-4th c. CE, bichrome embroidery on plain linen.
Inv. no.: Cl 13167.
Panel from a tapestry with dancing couple.
Egypt, Coptic, 6th c. CE, Polychrome embroidery on linen.
Inv. no.: Cl 13194.
Fragment of a tapestry with figure of Dionisios and a couple with animals.
Egypt, Coptic, 6th c. CE Polychrome embroidery on linen.
Inv. no.: Cl 13188.
Tapestry panel with bust of Dionisios or Ariane.
Egypt, Coptic. 7th c. CE. Polyhcrome embroidery on plain linen.
Inv. no: Cl 21835.
Embroidery fragment with hunting scene.
Egypt, Coptic, 4th-5th c. CE.
Inv. no.: Cl 13157.
Roundel with scene of lion hunt.
Egypt, Coptic, 4th c. CE, polychrome embroidery.
Inv. no.: Cl 13186.
Tapestry panel with centaur (?), human figures, animals
Egypt, Coptic, 7th-8th c. CE. Bichrome embroidery.
Inv. no.: Cl 14346A
Tapestry wall hanging (one of six panels) with scenes of seignorial life.
Southern Netherlands, 1st quarter of 16th c. Wool and silk.
Inv. no.: Cl 2181. For discussion and image of a different panel (Inv. no.: 2180, 2.85 x 2.85 m.), see website.
The Lady with the Unicorn wall hanging depicting the five senses and the conquest of desire/preservation of virtue.
Designed in Paris, woven in Flanders; with arms of Jean le Viste, a noble at the court of Charles VII. Late 15th c., Wool and Silk. Smallest panel (one shown here in detail) depicting "Sight" is 3.1 x 3.3 m.
Inv. nos.: Cl 10831-10834. Website (with good images of each panel).
Pyxis with scenes from Life of Christ.
Byzantine East, 5th-6th c. CE. Ivory.
Inv. no.: Cl 444.
Upper and lower parts of panel of diptych with consul Areobindus.
Constantinople, 506 CE. Ivory. 39 x 13 cm.
Inv. no.: Cl. 13135. Website (includes integral view and some details).
Plaque depicting St. Paul.
Byzantine East, 6th-beg. of 7th c. CE. Ivory.
Inv. no.: Cl 13074.

Casket with combat scenes from Classical mythology.
Constantinople, 10th-11th c. CE. Bone on wood.
Inv. no.: Cl 13075.
Six plaques depicting fantastic animals, from a casket.
Constantinople, 11th c. CE (?). Bone.
Inv. no.: Cl 8680.
Diptych. On side not shown, scenes from Life of Christ; on side shown, entwined medallions with hunt scenes, centaurs etc.
North Italy (?), ca. 900. Bone.
Inv. no.: Cl 391a,b.
Liturgical comb (two fragments).
Lotharingia, end 9th-10th c. CE (?). Ivory.
Inv. no.: Cl 23272a,b.
Gaul, 3rd-1st c. BCE. Found at Soucy (Aisne), 1866. Gold.
Inv. no.: Cl 8071.
Gaul, Gaul, 1st c. BCE. Found at Soucy (Aisne), 1866. Gold.
Inv. no.: Cl 8072.
Votive crown.
Visigothic Spain, 7th c. CE. Discovered in 1858 in Treasure of Guarrazar near Toledo. Gold, precious stones.
Inv. no.: Cl 2879 (?).
Reliquary depicting Adoration of Magi.
Limoges, ca. 1200. Champlevé copper, enamel, engraved, gilded. 20.7 x 19.7 x 8.5 cm.
Inv. no.: Cl. 23822. Website (French)
Window panel depicting Joseph being sold by his brothers.
Paris, Sainte-Chapelle, 15th c., incorporating materials from 13th c. Stained glass.
Inv. no.: DS 1888.
Capital of column, depicting Queen of Sheba.
Monastery of Saint-Denis, ca. 1137-1140. Limestone. 36.5 x 21 x 22 cm.
Inv. no.: Cl 23250. Website
Capital with facing harpies.
Monastery of Saint-Denis, ca. 1140-1145. Limestone. 26.1 x 41.2 x 30 cm.
Inv. no.: Cl. 23531. Website
Ceiling of Cluny chapel, ca. 1500.