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Understanding colour in Renaissance embroidery: new analytical approaches

Last updated: 8 February 2022

About the research

National Museums Scotland's internationally significant collection of European textiles and dress is 50,000 objects strong, dating from the 14th century to the present day, and is the third largest in the UK after the V&A and the Bath Fashion Museum. Despite the significance of workshop production in England and Scotland to textile scholars, very little art historical research has been undertaken.

At the heart of this collection is an outstanding group of over 30 Scottish and English embroideries dating from the mid-16th to the late-17th century. Its quality and breadth, as well as the techniques represented, make this collection of national significance. This project will seek to answer key questions about the manufacture of Scottish and English embroideries in the national collection, the raw materials and dyestuffs used and their relationship to continental European examples. The development of non-destructive analytical platforms (e.g., direct desorptive MS techniques such as Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption Electrospray Ionization (MALDESI)) which will underpin this study, is essential for the future scientific analysis of museum collections. This project will bring fundamental progress to both the heritage science community and the field of historical textile analysis.


Lead image: Square purse of white satin with petit point embroidery in coloured silks, and lined in pink silk: English, early 17th century.

Doctoral research project details

Project title

Understanding colour in Renaissance embroidery: new analytical approaches


Edith Sandstroem

Project active

2018 - present


AHRC Scottish Cultural Heritage Consortium (SCHC) – Collaborative Doctoral Partnership

University of Edinburgh Supervisor

Professor Alison Hulme - School of Chemistry

National Museums Scotland Supervisors

Dr Lore TroalenDepartment of Collections Services, and Helen Wylde - Global Arts, Cultures and Design department

Research theme

Scotland's Material Heritage

Email icon Dr Lore Troalen

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