Margareta Alströmer was a countess, singer, actress and artist. She was a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts and the Royal Swedish Academy of Music.
Margareta Alströmer was born in 1763 at Alingsås east of Gothenburg. She was the daughter of Baron Patrick Alströmer and Christina Maria Ollonberg, and the granddaughter of Jonas Alströmer. Strong cultural interests characterised her home. Patrick Alströmer was a businessman, director of the Alingsås manufacturing concern, councillor of commerce and head of the prominent Sahlgrenska trading company. He was also a director of the Swedish East India Company. Apart from all that, he and his brother Claes Alströmer did much to develop the music and theatre life of Gothenburg. They founded the first theatre in Gothenburg, Comediehuset, and arranged theatre performances and concerts in their own homes. Patrick Alströmer’s significance for Swedish opera has been highlighted, both for his economic support and as the president of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music.
Margareta Alströmer grew up with her sisters Christina Maria and Anna Helena and their half-brother Jonas. Their mother died young in 1764 when Margareta was only one, and their father remarried in 1786. His new wife was Christina Maria Silfverschiöld. Margareta Alströmer was brought up by a French governess, mademoiselle “Liaison” (Liegeon) who had also brought up other daughters of the nobility. She learned to sing and act when very young. In 1775—1776, the Alströmer families and the wealthy businessman John Hall with his wife Christina, held semi-public amateur theatre performances in their home. These were reviewed in public newspapers. The audience consisted of cultural personalities, the nobility and members of the upper class. All the siblings participated in the plays and concerts, and Margareta Alströmer was especially noteworthy. She performed – among other plays – in Celinde, a play produced in 1775 at John Hall’s home, and in Gustaf at the home of her uncle Claes Alströmer in 1776, in which she played the main role of Adelaide. She was praised in the newspapers and a poem of homage to her appeared in Götheborgs Allehanda. As one journalist wrote about the Alströmer sisters: “It is quite impossible to cease to marvel at these young Ladies’ progress, also in the Theatre.” Margareta Alströmer was described as follows in Hvad nytt? Hvad nytt?: “Although only twelve years of age, she played ‘in an unsurpassed fashion’, with feeling and delicacy.” The girls’ governess also participated in the performances.
In 1776, the family moved from Alingsås to Gothenburg, although they were often away on journeys. In the summer, the children and their mother visited Medevi Spa to take the waters. The Alströmer siblings also accompanied their father on his journeys to Stockholm, where they performed at parties. Patrick Alströmer encouraged his children to make music, and Margareta Alströmer later performed mainly as a concert singer. She married Major General Count Nils August Cronstedt af Fullerö on Christmas Eve 1781 in Alingsås. Two years later, in 1783, she gave birth to her son Patrik, who died the year after. In 1785, Claes August was born, and he had a long life. Her husband was sentenced to death in 1788 for the crime of disobedience to the King, but was granted the pardon of twenty years’ imprisonment in Varberg Fortress instead. He was released in 1792 however, by order of Duke Karl.
Margareta Alströmer continued to sing and make music even after her marriage, which was most unusual at that time. She was elected as a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music in 1795. The same year, she was also elected as a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts since she was active as an amateur artist. In 1799 she performed on the piano at a public concert in Stockholm. She was described as “a clever dilettante at the art of painting” and she is represented at the National Museum in Stockholm by her drawings Läsande äldre kvinna, in red chalk on paper, and Bygata, lead pencil on paper.
Margareta Hedvig Alströmer, www.skbl.se/sv/artikel/MargaretaAlstromer, Svenskt kvinnobiografiskt lexikon. Article by Eva Helen Ulvros. Retrieved 2021-07-04. Translated by Alexia Grosjean. CC-BY.
Village street from Nationalmuseum.