From the museum press release, 12 September 2011
The Pastrana Tapestries—among the finest Gothic tapestries in the world—will be on view together for the first time in the United States at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, from September 18, 2011 through January 8, 2012. The Invention of Glory: Afonso V and the Pastrana Tapestries will feature the recently restored set of four monumental tapestries that commemorate the conquest of two strategically located cities in Morocco by the king of Portugal, Afonso V (1432–1481).
Since the 17th century the tapestries have been the property of the Collegiate Church of Our Lady of the Assumption in Pastrana, Spain, just 50 miles east of Madrid. Because of their outstanding quality and historical significance, the Spanish government listed them as cultural patrimony to be safeguarded during the Spanish Civil War. The only one of the four that has traveled previously to the U.S., The Conquest of Tangier, was included in the landmark National Gallery of Art exhibition Circa 1492: Art in the Age of Exploration in 1991–1992.
“We are honored to be the first U.S. museum to offer this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the Pastrana Tapestries together,” said Earl A. Powell III, director, National Gallery of Art, Washington. “Exquisite and monumental, these tapestries depict one of the many events that would lead to the European voyages of exploration across the Atlantic.”
The exhibition 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.
After Washington, The Invention of Glory: Afonso V and the Pastrana Tapestries will be on view at the Meadows Museum, Dallas, Texas (February 5–May 13, 2012); the San Diego Museum of Art (June 10–September 9, 2012); and the Indianapolis Museum of Art (October 5, 2012–January 6, 2013).
The exhibition is made possible through the generous support of the government of Spain; the government of Portugal, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Instituto Camões; and the government of Belgium, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In 2008 the tapestries were sent to Belgium, where they originally had been woven more than five centuries earlier, for conservation treatment by the Royal Manufacturers De Wit in Mechlin.
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.