ALLEGORICAL UNICORN HUNT
LETTERPRESS PRINT by DANIEL MITSUI
This print is formatted as a verso page in an illuminated manuscript. The central image depicts a unicorn hunt as an allegory of the Incarnation of Christ.
The unicorn is a long-established Christological symbol. The second century Physiologus, precursor to the medieval bestiaries, described the unicorn as
a small animal, but exceeding strong and fleet, with a single horn in the centre of its forehead. The only means of capturing it is by stratagem, namely, by decking a chaste virgin with beautiful ornaments and seating her in a solitary place in the forest frequented by the unicorn, which no sooner perceives her than it runs to her and, laying its head gently in her lap, falls asleep. Then the hunters come and take it captive to the king’s palace and receive for it much treasure.
The chaste virgin who captures the unicorn of course represents the Blessed Virgin Mary. Late medieval artists combined the iconography of the Annunciation with the imagery of the unicorn hunt, representing the Archangel Gabriel as the hunter. The most elaborate of their compositions included hunting dogs representing mercy, truth, justice and peace; Old Testament prefigurements of the Annunciation; and the Marian titles from the Canticle of Canticles.
Here, I included the Enclosed Garden, the Closed Door, the Tower of Ivory and the Tower of David. Specific works of art that provided inspiration for the figures are a panel painting from the circle of Martin Schongauer and the Très Riches Heures of the Duke of Berry.
The background sky has a pattern of orthogonal letters spelling the words AVE MARIA. The ornamental border surrounding the central image contains branches of the plants that yield coffee, tea, cocoa and vanilla.
Medium: Letterpress print, based on ink drawings
Press: Heidelberg cylinder (Rohner Letterpress, Chicago, IL)
Ink: 1920 bond black (Graphic Chemical & Ink, Villa Park, IL)
Paper: Cotton wove (Reich Savoy)
Edition: Open, approximately 200
Dimensions: 6 3/4" × 9 3/4"
The print costs $25. You may use the button below to pay via PayPal, debit card or credit card. Be sure to confirm the shipping address. See this page for additional ordering instructions and general information. If you want to pay via a check or money order, please e-mail me at danielmitsuiartist at gmail dot com.
I can color this print by hand, using pigment-based calligraphers’ inks applied with brushes. I use 23k gold leaf and/or palladium leaf for the illuminated details. Please note that the brilliance of the leaf does not show well in the scanned image. Each hand-colored print is unique. The one you receive will not be identical to the one shown here.
The hand-colored print with illuminated details costs $453. You may use the button below to pay via PayPal, debit card or credit card. Be sure to confirm the shipping address. See this page for additional ordering instructions and general information. If you want to pay via a check or money order, please e-mail me at danielmitsuiartist at gmail dot com.
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