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URRBRAE HOUSE TAPESTRY

November 2017


The work is an embroidered canvas work stitched in silk and wool. The tapestry was cleaned and remounted to prepare it for display. It has been framed with museum glass to protect it from light damage in the future. The tapestry shows "Mary Queen of Scots Mourning over the Dying Douglas at the Battle of Langside" in '1 568. The exact identity of Douglas is uncertain. The scene was copied as a tapestry design from a painting of the battle by Charles Landseer (c. 1870). Many of Landseer's paintings were based on novels by Sir Walter Scott. ln Scott's fictional book, The Abbot (1820), George Douglas dies at the Battle of Langside. ln the tapestry Queen Mary leans over the mortally wounded Douglas as a priest administers the last rites. A bishop stands to the left of the fallen warrior while a riderless horse (presumably belonging to Douglas) stands to the right. The design was a popular one for ladies to stitch in the Victorian era. Similar tapestries can be found at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. The tapestry was awarded a Bronze Medal at the lnternational and Universal Exhibition, London at the Crystal Palace in 1884. ln the second half of the nineteenth century international exhibitions and world fairs enabled nations io display the scientific, industrial and artistic creativity of their citizens to the world. It is not known why Harriette Steele decided to enter her work in the 1884 Exhibition. The tapestry was generously donated to Urrbrae House by Mrs Susan Dutch on behalf of the Andrewartha family.

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