Svenskt kvinnobiografiskt lexikon

To advanced search

For more advanced searches and combinations please use the Språkbanken tool Karp. This is particularly relevant for researchers seeking to analyse the information contained in SKBL (Biographical Dictionary of Swedish Women).

  To Karp (External link)

Ulrika Melin


Textile artist, embroiderer

Ulrika (Melin) Drufva was an embroiderer who was only 17 years old when she was elected a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts in 1784.

Ulrika Druvfa, known as Ulrika Melin, was the daughter of Major Lars Melin and Ulrika Herbst, and the sister of Major General Henrik George Melin.

As a member of the upper classes, Ulrika Drufva was able to learn embroidery at home from an early age. When she was only 17 years old, she was elected a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts. The academy had been founded in 1735 with the aim of elevating the arts to a European level. During its first years, there was no fixed structure for the artistic profession so both women and men, professionals and amateurs, were welcome to exhibit their works at the academy’s public exhibitions. The participants were able to achieve recognition by winning medals for their works or being offered membership of the academy. During the period 1780–1796, four women were accepted, whose artistic activity was embroidery.

Ulrika Drufva was accepted on account of her work Vaisseaux dans le port that was a reproduction of Claude Lorrain’s engraving Harbour scene with rising sun. The embroidery was executed so that the stitches would resemble the brush strokes of painting and show a harbour setting. In the background are a few larger ships on their way in or out, and in the foreground is a group of men in a smaller boat on its way in while another group of men is standing and discussing something next to some barrels. The embroidery is on a cloth of dyed chenille.

In 1788, Ulrika Melin married Peter Thure Gerhard Drufva who had a military career until 1809 and the end of the Finnish war. He then retired with his wife to his country estate Nyborg in the province of Uppland. In 1816, he was appointed county governor in the province of Västmanland and also made governor at Västerås Castle, a post he held until his death in 1816. The couple had no children.

Ulrika Drufva is depicted in the collections of the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts, since the artist Jonas Forsslund chose to do a portrait of her in pastels as his reception work when he was elected a member in 1794.

Ulrika Drufva died in 1834.

Malin Stengård
(Translated by Margaret Myers)

Published 2020-12-09

You are welcome to cite this article but always provide the author’s name as follows:

Ulrika Melin,, Svenskt kvinnobiografiskt lexikon (article by Malin Stengård), retrieved 2024-07-14.

Other Names

    Married: Drufva

Family Relationships

Civil Status: Widow
  • Mother: Ulrika Herbst
  • Father: Lars Melin
  • Brother: Henrik George Melin
  • Husband: Peter Thure Gerhard Drufva


  • Profession: Textilkonstnär, brodör


  • Målare- och Bildhuggareakademien (numera Kungliga Akademien för de fria konsterna)


  • Upplands-Bro
  • Västerås


  • Lindberg, Anna Lena, 'Through the needle's eye: embroidered pictures on the threshold of modernity', Eighteenth-century studies, 1997/98 (31), s. 503-510

Further References

  • Ilmakunnas, Johanna, 'Embroidering women and turning men', Scandinavian journal of history, 2016(41):3, s. 306-331

  • Broderiet Vaisseaux dans le port. Konstakademin