My Life as Ulla Winblad 1744—1798

Portrait of a Woman.
Portrait with the inscription Ulla Winblad. Anonymous artist, 18th century. The Torekällberget Collection.

Accompany the real Winblad to whore balls and courtrooms, to hear a true story of pride and shame, fury and disgrace.

June 1, 2021—October 2, 2022
Floor 3, free admission

The exhibition My Life as Ulla Winblad brings you face to face with the real woman who inspired Carl Michael Bellman’s mythic character. Her name was Maria Christina Kiellström, and her turbulent life is a true story of pride and shame, partying and everyday life, fury and disgrace. The backdrop is the 18th-century city, from its poorest outskirts to balls at the Royal Palace. We have chosen to let her speak for herself. This is her story.

She will tell you how as a young woman, moving in Stockholm’s social circles, she adopted the name Ulla Winblad. A name that Bellman, the popular poet, also used for his central female character. A figure with many guises, celebrated and ridiculed, both madonna and whore.

The mythic Ulla Winblad became famous, and we see how her shadow stalked Kiellström’s life — even long after she tried to leave Ulla behind. Everyone thinks they know her, and everyone thinks the mythic figure and the real woman are one and the same. Right up until when she took her last breath in her little house at Timmermansgatan — and far into the future.

Every new era has created its own image of the 18th-century sex symbol Ulla Winblad. What is your image?