San Diego Museum of Art Presents Gothic Tapestries Exhibition

. July 22, 2012

The Pastrana Tapestries, among the finest surviving Gothic tapestries in the world, will be on view at The San Diego Museum of Art through September 9, 2012 in an exhibition titled The Invention of Glory: Afonso V and the Pastrana Tapestries.

The impressive exhibition is comprised of four recently restored, monumental tapestries, each measuring 12 by 36 feet. Woven in Tournai (in modern-day Belgium) at the end of the 15th century, the tapestries were commissioned for the Portuguese Royal Court and commemorate King Afonso V’s conquest in 1471 of the Moroccan cities of Asilah and Tangier, located near the entrance to the Strait of Gibraltar. They are among the rarest and earliest examples of tapestries created to celebrate what were then contemporary events, instead of allegorical or religious subjects, but the designer minimized the misery of warfare and reinvented the event with the heroic image of Afonso and the ideals of chivalry in mind.

Due to the tapestries’ outstanding quality and historical significance, the Spanish government listed the work of art as cultural patrimony to be safeguarded during the Spanish Civil War. The Pastrana Tapestries are property of The Collegiate Church of Our Lady of the Assumption in Pastrana, Spain, 50 miles east of Madrid.

“This extraordinary exhibition comes to The San Diego Museum of Art in part because these tapestries, created for the court in Portugal and long part of the heritage of Spain, have a natural connection with the Spanish art that is at the core of our old masters collection,” says Roxana Velásquez, Director of The San Diego Museum of Art. “The quality, beauty, and historical relevance of these tapestries offers a unique opportunity to enjoy this high art form of the 15th century. By viewing these magnificent works up close, visitors can develop a deeper understanding of both the art form and the stories they tell.”

The Invention of Glory: Afonso V and the Pastrana Tapestries will travel to The San Diego Museum of Art in time for its popular weekly Summer Salon Series, which will run concurrently with the tapestry exhibition, reflecting the theme “Beyond the Banner” a historical re-examination of the 15th century Pastrana Tapestries, investigating the fictions of our own information age.

The Invention of Glory: Afonso V and the Pastrana Tapestries is organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, and the Fundación Carlos de Amberes, Madrid, in association with the Embassy of Spain, the Spain-USA Foundation, and the Embassy of Portugal and with the cooperation of the Embassy of Belgium and the Embassy of Morocco in Washington, DC, as well as the Diocese of Sigüenza-Guadalajara and Church of Our Lady of the Assumption, Pastrana, Spain.

The conservation of the tapestries was undertaken at the initiative of the Spanish Fundación Carlos de Amberes, with support from the Belgian InBev-Baillet Latour Fund, and the following Spanish institutions: Fundación Caja Madrid, Region of Castilla-La Mancha, Provincial Council of Guadalajara, and Diocese of Sigüenza- Guadalajara and Church of Our Lady of the Assumption, Pastrana.

The conservation of the tapestries received the European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage/Europa Nostra Awards 2011.

The exhibition is supported by the Members of The San Diego Museum of Art and the County of San Diego Community Enhancement Program. Institutional support for the Museum is provided by the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture.

The San Diego Museum of Art is located at 1450 El Prado in Balboa Park, San Diego, Calif., 92101. General Information, (619) 232-7931, Group Sales: (619) 696-1935, Website:

Category: Exhibition News

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