Rare Catholic art acquired by national gallery

A ‘unique’ 17th century Stuart embroidery of the Crucifixion has been acquired by National Museums Scotland.

The embroidery, which National Museums Scotland called ‘a unique surviving example of textiles associated with Catholic devotion’, will undergo conservation work before going on display.

A spokesperson for National Museums Scotland said that few objects of this kind survive in Britain ‘as most were destroyed due to fears of idolatrous worship.’

“At the time, the practice of Catholicism was punishable by imprisonment or worse,” they said.

“Created by skilled artisans, the Crucifixion is illustrated in coloured silks and surrounded by a Latin prayer embroidered with gold and silver thread.”

The embroidery was originally in the possession of Elizabeth Stuart who married into the Howard Family, Dukes of Norfolk.

The art was kept by the Howards, the leading British Catholic family at the time, since they came into possession of it in the 17th.

Helen Wyld, Senior Curator of Historic Textiles at National Museums Scotland said the embroidery can help historians better understand the role of textiles in Catholic devotion in England and Scotland.

“Its history in the collections of Elizabeth Stuart and the Howard family sheds light on a forgotten aspect of Scotland’s past and provides insight into the lives of those who treasured it for centuries,” she said.

“Thanks to the generosity and support of Leslie B. Durst, this remarkable object will be secured for the nation for years to come.”

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