Artist in Focus - Anders Zorn


Anders Leonard Zorn, born 18 February 1860, was one of Sweden’s foremost artists, gaining international success as a painter, sculptor and printmaker in etching. Born and raised on his grandparents' farm in Yvraden, Zorn remained fascinated by his rural upbringing as well as urban modernity and high society that he would soon experience.

From 1875 to 1880 he studied at the Royal Swedish Academy of Arts in Stockholm, where he amazed his teachers with his talent. His first introduction into society came through various Stockholm commissions, which was also how he met his wife, Emma Lamm, early in 1881.

Zorn travelled extensively, becoming an international success as one of the most acclaimed painters of his era. Recognised for his incisive ability to depict the individual character of his model, he had a preoccupation with women and a knack of blurring class boundaries when painting female bodies. For his female nudes he chose models from the working classes who needed the extra income such as cleaners, waitresses, prostitutes and factory workers.

He moved to Paris in 1888 and went on to paint the King of Sweden and three American Presidents. A medal winner at the 1889 Paris Universal Exhibition for his piece ‘The First Time’, a painting of a mother leading her son into the sea at Dalaro. A shimmering enveloping treatment of light on waves brings the composition into contact with the pictorial world of Impressionism.

In 1896 Zorn moved permanently back to his native village where there was a cluster of Swedish artists and writers attracted by romantic visions of folk culture. Altogether a great artist, Anders Zorn has perhaps ceased to be recognised as such for quite a long time.

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