Textile historian Margaret Swain was the first person to realise that Scotland was unusual in the number of private houses which still contained historic textiles. Swain documented these textiles from old family papers and bills, and brought them to scholarly attention. She made an important contribution to the study of the fine series of tapestries at the Palace of Holyrood and has published on the needlework of Mary, Queen of Scots. In this portrait, Blackadder has used pencil to capture the lines and creases on the sitter's face. The softly smudged colours express a sense of warmth.