of The Hunt of the Unicorn :

Jean Perréal ?

(c.1455 - 1530)


1- in The Hunt of the Unicorn

1.1- is he a dog ?


tapestry 2


Several tapestries bear the first name and / or the name of the presumed creator.
One can read the name of Jan van Roome on the tapestry of the Redemption in the Metropolitan Museum in New York.
The name appears on the stockings of a young page of the tapestry of the glorification of Charles VIII in The Cloisters.
The name of Leonardo Knoester is on the platform in the center of The Finding of the Cross in Brussels.

In The Hunt to the Unicorn, an inscription is legible but it is difficult to decipher. It suggests that the artist could be named Jean or Johannes : on the horn of a nobleman in the second tapestry, the letters "JONES ON AN .. .. ... E (FECIT?)" can be read from right to left.

What to read on this horn ? What Word is revealed while it is concealed ?
However, the right eye of this dog, too hidden, warns us to be attentive and to decipher the message !

- - - - - - - - - -

Howard Comeau has done in the tapestry The Fountaine, I think, an important discovery : did our artist want to pay tribute to Leonardo da Vinci in a rebus : "Leo + nardo" ("nard" (in Franch) may be, among carnations, this plant with pointed leaves which surrounded the lion) together with Mona Lisa under the impassive features of the lioness, quietly sitting and watching us ?

The painting is dated to 1503-1507 and Leonardo never delivered it to his sponsor, but brought it to France in 1516. The title La Joconde meaning the smiling woman is based on a visual pun ; then, Jean Perréal can also enjoy about it.

And, just behind the lion, is that dog Jean Perreal himself whose gaze seems to want to read the thoughts of the Italian master or even participate in his gaze in search of the truth ?


self-portrait as a dog ...

... because Jean Perréal was the official painter of the king.
He was a faithful artist like a dog
in Spanish : dog = perro
Jean Perréal therefore could have created himself his name : " Perro-real "



tapestry 6


Who is this dog whose we see only the head and whose right eye is in perfect alignment
with that of the squirrel at the left (Jean Fouquet) and the dog's right (Jean Perréal) ?


self - portrait of Jean Fouquet - 1450

The 'Perro réal' seems to be "crowned" "at the bottom" with branches of laurel and oak, symbols of heroic triumph and dazzling force. As an artist who has finished and fully managed his masterpiece.


1.2- is he a Pilgrim ?


tapestry 2

This pilgrimage seems to be placed at the beginning under the sign of the shell of Saint Jacques de Compostelle that the apostle touches in the second tapestry.

At no time, our pilgrim seems to cross the river he runs along and which is certainly the "River of Death". The hunting of beast, the Unicorn (The Passion) which takes place on the other side suggests very well that death.


Accompanied by his dog, it is close to a figure of the Tarot : The Mat (or The Fool), map that moves freely in the structure of the Tarot, but also outside of this structure.

In Alchemy, the Mat is the Mercury, the raw material, and the Fool and the Sage, artisans of Opus as the pilgrim, merge.



- The dog : the first name of Anne de Bretagne, or perhaps that of Anne de France (Dame de Beaujeu, regent), possible sponsors of the tapestries, can be read on the collars of some dogs by the two extreme letters AE .

Each dog with this collar can be a "perro - real" (or Perréal).

Only those dogs that are next to our pilgrim wear necklaces where is a shell of Saint-Jacques, attribute of the pilgrim.


tapestry 4

And the only crossing possible, the bridge is occupied by Lucifer !

Lucifer, on the bridge, threats Jesus (the unicorn)



The Pilgrim begins his march.

His right leg is still hidden by a small pomegranate tree.

We read in the tree the symbol of the unity of the faith, concord and peace

in the fruit symbol of wholeness, hope and fertility,

in its red juice the symbol of Christ's blood.

tapestry 6

The same signs of recognition with the fingers between initiates


Another proof of this Pilgrim man became 'real' : one of his two dogs has a visible sex, sign of a 'resurrection' (under the appearance of an 'erection').


The Reale stone = Philosopher's Stone


The legend says that under the horn of the unicorn is a precious stone, the carbuncle. The mystery of the horn has been taken up by the alchemists as the general properties of their Stone they call "carbuncle."


Can we see it on the pommels of the swords of the pilgrim and the Dauphin ?



To see the page in French, click here


2- in The Lady With the Unicorn


2.1- a dog ?


the rebus

Perro + real = Perreal


The Taste


Let us look the gaze of the dog in the tapestry of The Taste, almost in love, up to Mary ; and the eye of the dog in the tapestry of The Touch-The Tent veiled with a hair-tear which looks us at the moment of Mary's departure from Calais to England).

By his redoubled presence at the feet of Mary, the dog expresses his loyalty to the French ephemeral queen .

The Touch

2.2- a letter ?

The abbreviation


In paleography, in the texts of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, a "crossed P" is an abbreviation for the syllables " PAR " ou " PER ".

Does the nearby presence of a Queen and a royal crown allows to write the rebus : real + Per = Perréal ?

Way for the artist Jean Perréal to sign his work openly on the pediment of the tent of the latest tapestry of the Five Senses, at the far right of the currency.



2.3- an alchimist ?


Miniature illustrating the poem written
in 1516 by Jean Francois Perréal and dedicated to François the 1st
"The Complaint of Nature to the Wandering Alchemist"

Paris - Musée Marmottan


Jean Perréal in the guise of the Alchemist ?


Signature de Jean Perréal - 1490
Archives municipales de Lyon, CC511, n° 49

To see the pages in French, click Jean Perréal 1 and Jean Perréal 2

and Jean Perréal Alchimiste

Marriage of Charles VIII and Anne de Bretagne - December 6th, 1491- castle of Langeais (Indre et Loire)

Howard Comeau and myself, we were invited.




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