Date: Before 1909
Photographer: Nanny Ekström
Provenience: Vetlanda (Hvetlanda, with old spelling) - or possibly Wirserum (Virserum), Sweden.
This photo is possibly late 1890's, but more likely from the first years of the 1900's. There is no date on it (nor a name), but the photographer had changed her design of her own name on the photos by 1909.
The most striking thing about this portrait is the collar the woman is wearing. It has a rather male flare to it, very high and rigid - probably very uncomfortable to wear with a lot of starch (and I really mean a lot - these pieces could be so solid they had an almost cardboard-y feeling to them) and not entirely practical. It was not something you used as a woman if you were to run your household, do cooking and cleaning and look after your children. This was the time of housekeepers - if you could afford it - but that did not mean the woman was supposed to just sit back in a chair and not do anything, just that the odds of having to get your hands dirty was much lessened. This woman is not dressed for that - her attire has a formal feel to it which makes me guess (though, for obvious reasons, without knowing) that she either worked as a teacher or in an office of some kind. This is after all the time when women (unmarried women) were able to get out and get a job in a way that had never been possible before, without degrading herself in the eyes of society.
I unfortunately know precious little about the photographer herself - not much more beyond the fact that she was active in the late 19th century and early 20th, in a town in Småland, Sweden. She was obviously successful in her work because she could open a second shop in another, smaller, town. And she was herself a part of this new society where women had more possibilities of earning their own living - being a photographer was something that was considered possible for 'proper' women to do.