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Margareta Capsia: life and works

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By Gwylym Owen

Margareta Capsia (1682 – June 20, 1759) was a Swedish/Finnish artist, the first professional native female performer in Finland, which during her lifetime was a ration of Sweden. She mainly painted altarpieces, but was also sprightly as a portrait painter.

Capsia was born in Sweden, the child of Gottfried Capsia and Anna Schultz. She married the priest Jacob Gavelin in Stockholm in 1719. After the Great Northern War in 1721 they moved to Vasa (Fi. Vaasa), where Margareta became known as an altarpiece painter in Österbotten.

In 1730, they moved to Åbo (Fi. Turku), where she became a well-known artist throughout Finland, and where she eventually died. Her altarpieces were described as individual illustrations of the bible, and she was regarded as one of the best painters in the genre together in imitation of Mikael Toppelius. She painted the altarpieces of a long line of churches, such as in the churches of Paltamo in 1727 and Säkylä in 1739.

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