Emma Schenson


Photographer, watercolour painter.

Emma Schenson was probably the first female photographer in Uppsala and one of the first women in Sweden to photograph professionally.

She was first trained as a watercolour painter, but worked from the 1860s in parallel with both painting and photography. During the childhood of photography it was unusual for women to photograph professionally, but after the regulation for freedom to pursue a trade from 1864, it became possible for women to establish themselves as entrepreneurs and photographers.

Schenson was active in Uppsala from 1860 onwards and had a permanent studio on Östra Ågatan 25. In the Photographic Association, which organized photographers, there were in 1888, three female members of a total of 65. These women were Anna Hwass, Wilhelmina Skogh and Emma Schenson.

During Schenson's productive years, the business card photograph as well as the larger cabinet photograph (format approx. 12 × 16.5 cm) became very popular in all social classes. There are very likely pictures in older Uppsala families performed by her.

The Block Domen, Fyristorg and Uppsala Cathedral, Fjärdingen, Uppsala before 1885. Photographer: Probably Emma Schensson, Uppsala / Upplandsmuseet.

"The Geezers of the Svartbäcken creek" in Kvarnfallet at Akademikvarnen, the quarter Holmen, Uppsala 1880–1890s. Photographer: Emma Schenson / Upplandsmuseet.

During the years 1885-1893, Emma Schenson documented the great restoration of Uppsala Cathedral. Through her images we can follow the restoration from start to finish.

There are currently no negatives preserved from Schenson's photographs, but some photos have been preserved and are available today in the map and picture collections at Uppsala University Library.

There is also an album that shows the cathedral's transformation during the time of the great restoration. Early on, the value of this photographic documentation was realized, which can be seen in an inscription in the Schensons album, which ends "alone in its kind and important for the future". The photographs that are preserved, are a remarkable cultural and historical treasure.


Burial site: 0101-0031

Image description: Emma Schenson, ca 1865-ca 1875. Photo: UUB. [The image is cropped]
Click here for an uncropped image