In the small Spanish town of Pastrana, within the province of Guadalajara, an enormous textile treasure is preserved. A set of Flemish tapestries, made throughout the 15th century in the city of Tournai, in present-day Belgium. And even given their size and quality, it is speculated that they would come from one of the most prestigious workshops in that city, that of Passchier Grenier.
Flemish Pastrana Tapestry Set
These tapestries correspond to two different series. The first would be formed by four gigantic tapestries (10 x 6 meters in area). Some tapestries made between 1472 and 1475 to capture the conquests made by King Alfonso V of Portugal in North Africa. Thus the title of each of them is The Landing at Asilah, The Siege of Asilah, The Assault on Asilah and The Taking of Tangier. And the fifth and sixth would correspond to another series with El Cerco del Alcázar Seguer and La Entrada en Alcázar Seguer, events starring that same king, who would be the one who commissioned the production of the set.
It is clear that when these creations were made, they were made to extol the monarch, and the interesting thing is that they were made with very little time between what was reported and the moment of weaving, which gives it a certain tone of graphic document, almost a report on that event. Although, areportage with fantastic fights, numerous characters or striking details, such as North African cities looking like they are from Northern Europe, since the weavers shaped the cities they knew.
Detail of the Tapestry of the Taking of Tangier
But how did these tapestries get to this place in Guadalajara? Well, it was an acquisition of the fourthDuke of Pastrana, Rodrigo de Silva, who was the son of the famousPrincess of Éboliand her Portuguese husband her. That is why he bought them, but since they did not fit in his palace, they were donated to theColegiata de la Asunción, in whose museum they are currently exhibited after a thorough restoration period.
This laborious restoration allows us to appreciate all its quality today. The meticulousness put into the smallest details of the clothes, the weapons or the faces of the many characters in these fabrics is incredible. To this we must add its luminosity and strong color contrasts.
That is to say, we are before some works of great value within the Gothic textile art, in which at times very expressive characters are generated, especially in the faces we see even tears or expressions of maximum effort or horror at the fighting. Especially in the canvas dedicated to the Taking of Tangier, in which there is great drama.