TillbakaThe Drama of Life


White chasuble of silk damask with blue and gold embroidery, made in 1955.

This white chasuble is made of “Cathedral”-patterned white silk damask and was woven at the Bevilacqua studio in Venice to a design by Sofia Widén. The motif comprises elements of Gothic architecture, and this motif forms part of the embroidered patterning. The embroidery is done in couch work, using various shades of blue, gold thread and blue textile appliqué.

Uppsala Cathedral has two chasubles with this pattern by Sofia Widén, the only difference between them being the central motif. The centrepiece here is a stylised Tree of Life surrounded by spires and cathedral windows.

Sofia Widén (1900–1961), the chasuble’s designer, is one of the very foremost 20th century Swedish designers of ecclesiastical textiles. Her total output for Swedish churches probably exceeds a thousand items, many of them with an austere modern décor. Sofia Widén was an innovator but also a steward of the legacy of that great pioneer of modern Swedish textile art, Agnes Branting. Her work combines historical awareness with the introduction of modern compositional elements. This white chasuble was woven at the Bevilacqua silk weavery in Venice, which supplied many Swedish churches with ornamental textiles during the 20th century.

Towards the close of her career, Sofia Widén campaigned for the use of such classically Swedish materials as wool and linen instead of silk. She was also a powerful advocate of high-quality but plain and inexpensive textiles, so that less opulent parishes could also afford to renew their holdings. This chasuble is a good example of the textiles designed by Sofia Widén in collaboration with Ateljé Alice Lund.