The Invention of Glory: Pastrana Tapestries in Balboa Park

by Micaela Shafer Porte

Lucky San Diegans have the rare privilege to host the unique and beautiful exposition of the Pastrana Tapestries, at the San Diego Art Museum in Balboa Park until the end of the summer, on its limited world tour of only six cities. Go see it!

These four giant tapestries, some of the largest in the world, were commissioned by the 14th century Portuguese king, Alfonso V, to glorify his successful campaign to capture the north African cities of Asilah and Tangiers to secure the passage of the Strait of Gibraltar.

Decorative arts meets history in “The Invention of Glory.” Master Belgian tapestry maker, Passchier Grenier, created these masterpieces of delight for the eye and the mind, and now, 6 centuries later, after major restoration, they are touring the world.

This is what they did before the invention of television and video games, and you almost feel like you are in the middle of some glorious life-sized video game as armored soldiers and kings and castle defenders fight it out in a naif-MC Escher style composition of glorious reds and blues and golds. If I haven’t yet used the word “glorious” enough, it is because I am refraining myself, because this is indeed a glorious thing!

Unique in history, unique in art, unique in San Diego, don’t miss your unique chance to see them before they return to the monastery in Pastrana, Spain. 

The exhibit ends September 9, 2012.

Free Tuesday for San Diego residents on the third Tuesday of the month.

San Diego Art Museum, Balboa Park, open 10-5, Sundays, 12-5, closed on Wednesdays.

Micaela Shafer Porte is a San Diego beach town native, a Pacific Beach activist, and artist-illustrator.