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A Handbook to the Loan Exhibition of French Tapestries: Mediaeval, Renaissance and Modern, from the Public and Private Collections of France

By Metropolitan Museum Of Art | Go to book overview

A MESSAGE FROM FRANCE

IF the Lady with the Unicorn has crossed the seas amid all the heraldic panoply of a warship, it is to bring with her accouterments of wool, gold, and silk a message to the people of the United States from the people of France. The long file of tapestries in her train spreads before your eyes a poem, now rustic and pastoral, now sumptuous and regal; it may be religious or warlike. Our own era adds a paean of liberty. Through its whole length, across five centuries, rings the lyric spirit of our land.

You will see here the products of a craft essentially French, whose renascence in modern times constitutes one of the most striking developments of our contemporary art. You will read here, also, a story in which the humble labors of the field take on an air of legend, while the celestial figures of martyrs and angels hover on the blue horizon of our familiar countryside. Against the faithfully rendered décor of his enchanted dwellings Louis XIV moves with stately presence. Lurçat's chanticleer and the peasants of Gromaire take up, in their own manner, old Gallic refrains. You will hear a song arising from the soil of France. And since we cannot send you our cathedrals, our palaces, or our white villages, our parks or our furrowed fields, we offer you in this long poem the happiest picture a people has ever given of its own life.

I thank our friends of the Metropolitan Museum of New York, and especially its director, Francis Henry Taylor, for the care with which they have received and placed before the public this exhibition, which was prepared and planned by Pierre Verlet, Curator in Chief of the Department of Decorative Arts of the Louvre.

GEORGES SALLES

Director of the Museums of France

-ii-

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