Conservation and international promotion of four 15th century flamenco tapestries (Pastrana Tapestry)

Medal/Award in the category Conservation in the year 2011.

Dating of the building: 1474 - 1480.

Applicant: Catherine Geens, Carlos de Antwerp Foundation.

Reason for the award :

For the restoration and preservation of this set of Flemish tapestries, perhaps the most valuable of this time preserved in Europe, both for its quality and size and for the fact - also exceptional - of narrating a contemporary event: the conquest of the lands of North Africa by King Alfonso V of Portugal.

For the restoration and preservation of this set of Flemish tapestries, perhaps the most valuable of this time preserved in Europe, both for its quality and size and for the fact – also exceptional – of narrating a contemporary event: the conquest of the lands of North Africa by King Alfonso V of Portugal.

These four spectacular tapestries, about 11 m. long x 4 high each, were woven in Flanders, probably in the Passchier Grenier manufactory, at the end of the 15th century. They constitute an exceptional example of European heritage, first of all for the quality of their technique, and also for being a true war chronicle of their time, capturing real events – the conquest of two cities on the Moroccan coast by the Portuguese King Alfonso V in August 1471- instead of representing, as was customary at the time, mythological or religious themes. It is not known with certainty how they arrived in Spain, whether as a gift from the Portuguese king to the Mendoza family, as war booty after the battle of Toro, or among the possessions of Philip the Fair. The fact is that from 1532 they are listed as property of the Mendozas, Dukes of the Infantado, who in 1667 donated them to the Collegiate Church of Pastrana.

At the initiative of the Carlos de Antwerp Foundation, the tapestries underwent curative conservation in the Dewit workshops in Mechelen in 2009 and were later exhibited, between 2010 and 2012, in various European institutions (Royal Museums of Art and History, Brussels; Palace del Infantado, Guadalajara; Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, Lisbon; Museo de Santa Cruz, Toledo; Carlos de Amberes Foundation, Madrid) and American (National Gallery, Washington; Meadows Museum, Dallas; San Diego Museum of Art; Peabody-Essex Museum, Salem). Some 300,000 people were able to admire the tapestries during their tour. In October 2014, Pastrana Tapestry Museum was inaugurated, the definitive home of the tapestries.

The Foundation published versions in Spanish, Portuguese, and English of the catalogue with texts by various experts on the history and conservation of the Pol Mayer tapestries and photographs. Thanks to the funds raised on the international tour, the Carlos de Antwerp Foundation has been able to undertake the curative conservation of two other tapestries from the 16th century which are also part of the Tapestry Museum of Pastrana.

Others awards in Castilla-La Mancha: