Swedish, 1860–1920


"Anders Leonard Zorn's father was a brewery worker and his mother a farm girl from Mora in the Swedish region of Dalecarlia. On his father's death, Zorn was brought up by his maternal grandfather. He demonstrated his artistic ability at a very early age, carving little wooden animals and painting them with colors mixed from crushed fruit. Between the ages of 12 and 15, Zorn attended school in Enköping, a township some 40 miles from Stockholm. He is believed to have been apprenticed for a time to a carpenter and cabinet-maker. In 1875, however, a few of his late father's friends from the brewery pooled their resources, collected a modest stipend, and sent Anders off to enroll at the fine arts academy in Stockholm.

Zorn took an instant liking to sculpture, but later also produced watercolors. In 1881 he left the academy and traveled to Spain. The following year saw him in London, where he remained until early winter 1884, at which point he set off for Lisbon and divided his time between the Portuguese capital and Madrid. He returned to Stockholm in 1885 and married Emma Lamm, taking her on honeymoon to Hungary and Turkey. He almost died in Turkey following a bout of typhoid fever. Zorn then spent most of 1886-1888 back in Sweden, although he made visits to Spain, Africa and England. In 1888 Zorn moved to Paris, where he admired the works of Degas, Renoir and, above all, Auguste Rodin, who befriended him.

In 1892 Zorn went to the USA as head of a Swedish delegation to the World's Fair of 1893 in Chicago. He scored a resounding triumph at the exhibition and made so many contacts that he subsequently returned to the USA on no fewer than six further occasions. In 1892 he settled back in Sweden in Mora, where he built a house and furnished it with the various objets d'art he had collected in the course of his travels. He lived and worked in Mora from that juncture on, although he subsequently also maintained a studio in Stockholm.

One of Zorn's earliest watercolors was exhibited in 1880. It proved an immediate critical (and financial) success. While in Spain in 1881, he painted numerous watercolors. By 1884 he was painting portraits of the leading figures of the day in Spanish and Portuguese society. He was at his very best during this period, producing compositions with an Impressionist-like vivacity and spontaneity. His genre compositions were particularly successful in capturing the flavor and essence of Spain. In the 15 years or so that followed, Zorn produced the bulk of his paintings and engravings, including some of his most powerful, along with portraits of the Swedish royal family, notably King Oscar II and Prince Carl. He also produced a self-portrait and a large number of portraits of American millionaires, together with a plethora of etchings based on his own paintings. He painted portraits of leading personalities in the art and literary world, among them those of Ernest Renan, Anatole France, Auguste Rodin, Paul Verlaine, Pavel Troubetskoï and Albert Engström. This period also proved to be his most successful as a sculptor.

Zorn painted some 60 portraits while in America in 1892. From that point on, he spent part of the year painting in Mora, taking as his subject matter rustic interiors with nude or colorfully costumed peasant women going about their daily tasks. His female figures have since been compared to those of Jacob Jordaens. The rest of the year was then spent in Stockholm, where Zorn produced portraits and other compositions to order.

Anders Zorn's standing in the history of art is difficult to pinpoint. His birth date - 1860 - makes him virtually a contemporary of Henri Matisse, but his allegiance appears to be more towards the tradition of Degas. He bequeathed to Sweden a most seductive Post-Impressionist interpretation of women which, over time, became increasingly voluptuous and Realist. It may be that, to a degree, his prolific output tended to dissipate his undoubted talent as both painter and sculptor. In Sweden, however, he is regarded as a national treasure.

Zorn exhibited between 1882 and 1884 at the Royal Academy in London and at the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours. He also exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1888 with a canvas entitled Fisherman of St-Ypres, which secured him an honorable mention and which was later acquired by the French state for exhibition in the Musée du Luxembourg. At the 1889 Salon, Zorn exhibited portraits of the dancer Rosita Mauri and of Antonin Proust and won a gold medal. That same year, he was elevated to the rank of Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur and, the following year (1890), he was elected to membership of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts. This was a significant honor for an artist not yet out of his 20s (who had nonetheless already achieved several awards and distinctions at various exhibitions). Equally or perhaps more flattering was the invitation he received to paint his self-portrait for the Uffizi in Florence. The 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris consolidated his status: he was awarded a double gold and promptly elevated to the rank of Officier de la Légion d'Honneur. In 1906 Zorn again visited Paris, remaining there for a month to oversee an exhibition of his paintings, engravings and sculpture. By this time, he was a regular representative of Sweden at the Venice Biennale. In 1911 he was elected as a foreign member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris" (Benezit, Dictionary of Artists, Gründ, 2006).

Museum Collections:
Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
British Museum, London
Christchurch Art Gallery, Christchruch
Courtauld Institute of Art, London
Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX
Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, MA
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Musée d'Orsay, Paris
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.
Zorn Museum, Mora

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ANDERS ZORN    Seaward Skerries   Etching on cream paper 7 x 9¾ inches (17.5 x 24.5 cm)  SOLD

Seaward Skerries
Etching on cream paper
7 x 9¾ inches (17.5 x 24.5 cm)