Thursday, March 1, 2012
Afonso V at the Meadows
Tonight I took advantage of Thursday evening free admission to make my first visit (I'm sure I'll be back, hopefully next time with my fellow monarchist who comments here as "Flambeaux") to the new exhibition The Invention of Glory: Afonso V and the Pastrana Tapestries at Dallas's incomparable Meadows Museum. These magnificent lavish works of art, preserved since the 17th century at the Collegiate Church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción in Pastrana in the Spanish province of Guadalajara, depict the 1471 conquest of Asilah and Tangier in Morocco by King Afonso V of Portugal (1432-1481) and his son Prince João (1455-1495), the future King João II, who was only 16 at the time.
As I walked into the room I was overwhelmed by the colorful richness of the four huge splendid tapestries, one on each wall, which fully convey the chivalrous glory of a European civilization that believed in itself and in loyalty to God and King. While the Flemish weavers apparently did not know what North African Islamic buildings looked like, otherwise the wealth of historical detail is impressive, and unusual at a time when tapestries normally depicted religious or mythological scenes rather than contemporary events. The vanished brilliance of the Portuguese Monarchy, with the King and his young Heir depicted as brave and heroic leaders, makes the past century of republicanism all the more pathetic by comparison, as I ventured to remark to a museum guide who observed that neighboring Spain certainly did well to restore its King. How anyone could view these tapestries and not long for Portugal to have a royal family again is beyond me. There are not many places in Dallas where a monarchist can feel at home, but the Meadows Museum is one of them. I highly recommend this exhibit, which is definitely worth seeing more than once, to any readers living near or able to visit the Dallas area before May 13 when it closes.