Lea Ahlborn

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Lea Ahlborn

Lea Fredrika Ahlborn (née Lundgren) (18 February 1826 – 13 November 1897) was a famous Swedish artist, and medallist.[1] She was a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Arts, and the first woman to be appointed royal printmaker. The position of royal printmaker was counted as a public office, and thereby made her the first female official or civil servant in Sweden.[2]

Sweden's Horse Award Silver Medal, engraved by Lea Ahlborn.


She was the child of the printmaker Ludvig Lundgren, and the artist Rebecca Johanna Salmson. Lea Ahlborn early decided to follow her father in his profession. In 1849, she, Amalia Lindegren, Jeanette Möller and Agnes Börjesson, became one of the four women who were given special permission to study art at the Royal Swedish Academy of Arts, which was then not yet officially open to women students, although female students were accepted with special dispensation.[3]

In 1851, she made a study-trip to Paris with her teacher Carl Gustaf Qvarnström (1810–1867) and her brother Pehr Henrik, where she worked with the sculptor Toussaint, the printmaker Barre and her maternal uncle, the medal designer Johan Salmson.

In 1853, she returned to Sweden; the same yer, her father died, and she functioned as royal printmaker until the return of her brother, who was decided to take over their fathers position, but her brother died in Paris. In 1855, she was appointed royal printmaker and elected as a member in the Royal Swedish Academy of Arts. She kept herself updated in everything regarding her work, and was given assignments from the Swedish Academy, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and the royal academy Pro Patria and by Empress Eugenie of France. She made the medal-portraits to the celebration of the anniversary of the wedding of the king and queen, and she was hired by the United States government to make the medal of George Washington at the centenary (hundred years anniversary) of the end of the war of independence in 1883, and to the celebration of Christopher Columbus' discovery of America in 1892. In 1892, she was given the medal Illis Quorum by king Oscar II of Sweden.

Her sister, Carolina Weidenhayn, (1822–1902), became the first professional female xylographer, who after studies in Paris 1858–1867, became an instructor (1859–1881) at the technical school Tekniska Skolan (now Konstfack or University College of Arts, Crafts and Design) in Stockholm, Sweden.[1]. Lea Ahlborn married the artist Carl Ahlborn and had several children.



  1. ^ L. Forrer, Ahlborn, Lea (1904). Biographical Dictionary of Medallists. Volume 1. London: Spink & Son Ltd. pp. 30–33. 
  2. ^ Österberg, Carin et al., Svenska kvinnor: föregångare, nyskapare. Lund: Signum 1990. (ISBN 91-87896-03-6)
  3. ^ Österberg, Carin et al., Svenska kvinnor: föregångare, nyskapare. Lund: Signum 1990. (ISBN 91-87896-03-6)