Dame A L'Hermine woven Belgian tapestry is inspired by the work of artist Leonardo Da Vinci.
This piece features the Dame A L'Hermine, or The Lady with the ermine, as it is also called. The subject in the painting has been identified with reasonable certainty as Cecilia Gallerani, who was the mistress of Leonardo's employer, Ludovico Sforza. The woman is sitting body facing three quarters right but facing left as if to be looking at another person. In her arms, Gallerani holds a small white-coated stoat, known as an ermine.The ermine, a stoat in its winter coat, was a traditional symbol of purity because it was believed an ermine would face death rather than soil its white coat. In his old age, Leonardo compiled a bestiary in which he recorded:
MODERATION The ermine out of moderation never eats but once a day, and it would rather let itself be captured by hunters than take refuge in a dirty lair, in order not to stain its purity.