At the heart of symbolism

The Lady with Unicornmy sole desire


The beginning and the end of the series

In the sixth tapestry of the series, the pavilion in the background carries the inscription my sole desire. The inscription is framed by two letters and has not only given its name to the tapestry, but also rise to number of commentaries.

This tapestry notably differs from the others by its dimensions and the presence of this blue pavilion decorated with golden flames. The lion and the unicorn lift up both parts of the fabric on each side of the opening to facilitate the way out of or into the pavilion. In other words, the pavilion opens the scene on a previous or a following happening.

Adorned with her jewels, the young Lady presents a piece of jewellery to the Lady. From then on, a question should be asked: does the Lady intend to lay her necklace into the jewellery box or to carry it to her neck ? The necklace pattern evokes the one carried in “Taste”. Moreover, did the Lady just put on or is still carrying bracelets and a belt, which are matching the necklace and decorated with pearls and little flowers ? As she is carrying a necklace in the five other tapestries, the piece “My sole desire” will precede or follow them depending on whether the Lady is seizing or laying the necklace into the jewellery box. In other words, this piece can just as well characterize the beginning and the end of the series of the five senses depending on whether my sole desire is to taste or to surpass them. Consequently, the tapestry series must be seen as a cycle of which “My sole desire” marks the beginning and the end.

When “My sole desire” indicates the beginning of the cycle, it precedes the manifestation of the five senses and corresponds to the way out of the pavilion; when it marks the end of the cycle, it follows the five senses and depicts the return of the being towards an integrated state and the way into the pavilion. This integrated state contains all senses in an indistinct manner and represents the first step on the way towards Unity. It constitutes, in a way, a degree where the five senses are in harmony, balanced and at rest.

The whole scene breathes calm, harmony and balance. It is not astonishing that Paradise was evoked about it. A companion dog, already present in Taste and endowed with a “mane” similar to the lion's, is calmly sitting next to the big cat. Close to the unicorn, the young “company” Lady is groomed with an egret that echoes the horn of the mythical animal.

The hair of the Lady resembles the mane of the lion and the egret decorating her hairstyle looks like the horn of the unicorn. The Lady is located in the middle of the scene; she stands directly in line with the opening of the pavilion, between the lion and the unicorn, Sun and Moon, light and obscurity or, more accurately, at the junction of the principles they are representing. Now, the golden flames on the blue background of the pavilion canvas remind us that the Sun is often associated with fire (red) and the Moon with water (blue). Consequently, it is not surprising that these two colours dominate the whole series and “My sole desire” in particular. It is not less astonishing that the celestial red includes the terrestrial blue. In addition, as the Lady is holding the middle of the scene, no wonder that the inside of the pavilion is related to yellow, the median colour between red and blue in the rainbow spectrum. Traditionally, yellow represents the “Middle Path”, the Axis between Heaven and Earth symbolized by the invisible pole of the pavilion. It links all the being's states from the most physical to the most spiritual, from the five senses of the ordinary being and their indistinct state proper to the human being to the supra-human states.

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