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Fundación Carlos de Amberes wins Europa Nostra award for the conservation of 15th-century Flemish tapestries

On Friday 10 June, in a ceremony in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Placido Domingo, famous opera singer and chairman of Europa Nostra and Androulla Vassiliou, European commissioner of Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth presented the 2011 European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards. Among the 27 winners was Fundación Carlos de Amberes for its project to restore a series of four large 15th-century Flemish tapestries owned by the Colegiata de Pastrana in Guadalajara, Spain.

Fromn the Europa Nostra website, 12 June 2011

“The jury praises the curative conservation of this exceptional series of tapestries, woven in the 15th century in the Low Countries. The restoration of these extraordinary tapestries, which for centuries have belonged to the Colegiata of Pastrana, is also significant for its involvement of many European countries, during the research, funding and conservation phases of the project, as well as for its promotion as the tapestries tour the continent.”

The Tapestries of Pastrana, a series of four large tapestries of approximately 40m2 each designed to be hung all in one room, have been through a profound curative conservation, by an initiative of the Fundación Carlos de Amberes. The tapestries, owned by the Colegiata de Pastrana in Guadalajara, were woven in the 15th century in the Low Countries with exceptional technical ability, and are rare examples of tapestries which depict a contemporary event: Alfonso V of Portugal’s conquests of the Moroccan coast in 1471, reliably representing battle scenes of the event. They are true jewels of European heritage.

Their conservation has been a European project as well, with various European countries implicated: the tapestries were restored by a prestigious Belgian company, with the financial support of Belgian and Spanish institutions. Despite the importance and historical and artistic value of the tapestries, the fund raising campaign proved very challenging. The tapestries are also illustrated in a multi-language book, form part of a multidisciplinary research project with experts from different European institutions, and continue to be displayed across Europe to share these historical depictions, created with beauty and skill, as extraordinary examples of European heritage.

About the Fundación Carlos de Amberes

The Carlos de Amberes Foundation, is the realization of the wish of a Flemish man (Karel van Antwerpen) who donated all his fortune to the city of Madrid in order to create this institution, which 400 years thereafter is still fully active. Bolstered by a reorganisation of its original purpose (a hospital for pilgrims), the Carlos de Amberes Foundation is ready to enter the 21st Century, dedicated to safekeeping the historical ties among the territories that once belonged to the Spanish Crown in the 16th and 17th Centuries. The Foundation cooperates via all sorts of cultural, political and scientific initiatives with those countries -Belgium, The Netherlands, Luxembourg and northern France- in the adventure of building a common space: a united Europe.