Dovecot Studios to Create Major Leon Kossoff Tapestry

Exploring war, peace, and the artist’s legacy






Dovecot Studios, the internationally renowned art studio in Edinburgh, will create a new tapestry inspired by Leon Kossoff’s painting Study from Minerva Protects Pax from Mars by Rubens (1981). This unique tapestry has only recently started on the loom and is being woven in Dovecot’s tapestry studio, which can be viewed by the public via their exclusive Viewing Balcony.


The commission, which will take one year to weave, will restart Dovecot’s tapestry studio after the restrictions imposed by COVID-19. This exciting creation will be first time an artwork by the expressionist painter Kossoff (1926-2019) has been translated into tapestry. While Kossoff’s expressive and assertive brushstrokes and the depth of his palette pose a new creative challenge for the Studios, his majestic painting will allow the team of weavers to highlight their own expressive skills and to experiment with both texture and colour on a huge scale.

The subject of Study from Minerva Protects Pax from Mars is a highly charged anti-war composition in which Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom, helps to drive away Mars, the god of war. Originally conceived by Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640), Kossoff was captivated by the subject and design of Rubens’ 1630 painting and made multiple studies in charcoal as well as oil painting.

Leon Kossoff and Dovecot Studios, tapestry, courtesy of Andy J Mather Photography
Leon Kossoff and Dovecot Studios, tapestry, courtesy of Andy J Mather Photography

Celia Joicey, Dovecot Director says, This commission is hugely exciting – it represents the importance of tapestry as a public artform in Scotland and it is a statement of intent for Edinburgh. We have world-leading studios and galleries in which to make and display art in the city – this tapestry will connect the best of both while promoting the significance of Leon Kossoff’s mark-making on an unprecedented scale.

The project is a collaboration with Parabola, the visionary developer behind the creation of
Edinburgh Park, a new public realm in the west of the city where the tapestry will ultimately hang. Peter Millican, Chair of Parabola says, I am delighted that this Dovecot and Leon Kossoff tapestry will be at the heart of the Edinburgh Park development. Kossoff’s sensitivity to people and place, and Dovecot’s collaborative craft-led approach reflect Parabola’s own philosophy and ambition to create inspirational spaces for living, thinking, and working.

Leon Kossoff and Dovecot Studios, tapestry in progress 5, courtesy of Andy J Mather Photography
Leon Kossoff and Dovecot Studios, tapestry in progress 5, courtesy of Andy J Mather Photography

Leon Kossoff is considered one of the most important painters of post-war Britain. Known for his expressionist portraits and depictions of urban life, Kossoff was drawn to the work of the Old Masters including Nicolas Poussin, John Constable, and Peter Paul Rubens. A regular visitor to the National Gallery in London, Kossoff sketched extensively from the collection to develop his own modern response to grand historical themes. For nearly a decade, Kossoff created works inspired by the allegorical painting Minerva Protects Pax from Mars (Peace and War) 1629-30 by Rubens. This study culminated in an oil painting Study from Minerva Protects Pax from Mars by Rubens, 1981.

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