b. 1824, Stockholm
d. 1895, Stockholm







BVportAurora Valeria Albertina Valerius, known as Bertha, came from a distinguished family. Her father was the influential civil servant, poet and translator Johan David Valerius (1776-1852). Bertha Valerius was one of the first women in Sweden to be granted an exemption to study art. It was during a trip to Paris that she discovered her interest in photography. She became one of Sweden's first and leading photographers. The upper middle class and the nobility sat in front of her lens. In 1864 she was appointed official portrait photographer to the Royal Court and produced numerous cartes de visite for the royal family. When she handed over her photographic studio to her student Selma Jacobsson around 1880, she devoted herself exclusively to portrait painting.

But Bertha Valerius' true and central passion was Spiritualism. What few people knew was that she was a medium herself. Beginning in the 1870s, she wrote down messages she received from various spirits. She published some of them in 1886 under the title Meddelanden från den osynliga verlden ("Messages from the Unseen World" only under her initials B. V. She also received mediumistic drawings. The most famous of these was the large portrait of Christ, a pastel work on which she worked for almost 40 years until shortly before her death, guided by an otherworldly power. Photographs and postcards of this work were widely distributed among spiritualists around the world. It also hung above the altar of "The Five".

Valerius was already a member of the oldest Swedish Spiritualist association, the Spiritualist Lending Library (Spiritistiska Lånebiblioteket, founded in 1877), which after a few years was renamed the Spiritualist Literary Association (Spiritistiska Litteraturföreningen). She served as the writing medium for the group. In 1883 she founded her own small spiritualist circle with like-minded women, the Cloverleaf (Klöverbladet). This group also included the charismatic Huldine Beamish (1836-1892). In 1890, through the influence of Huldine Beamish, the Cloverleaf merged with Beamish's new alliance, the Edelweiss Society, in which Bertha Valerius played a central role. Some fascinating mediumistic drawings by her deal with the formation and prophecies about the development of the Edelweiss Society.

Bertha Valerius was highly esteemed and respected by her contemporaries and was considered to be extremely charitable. She donated her entire fortune to those in need.

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