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Zorn Sweden's Master Painter

Before there was IKEA there was Anders Zorn (1860–1920). The Swedish painter was one of the most famous living artists of his time. Zorn's fame allowed him to cross the Atlantic when he represented Sweden at the 1893 Chicago World's Columbian Exposition, after which he became immensly popular in the States. Despite all of Zorn's fame in America there has only been one big retrospective examining his work - until now that is.

  • Herdsmaid, 1908. Zorn Museum.
  • Mrs. Cameron, 1900. In private ownership.

Herdsmaid, 1908. Zorn Museum.

Anders Zorn was born in Mora, Sweden, on 18th February 1860. Throughout his career he maintained a close relationship to his hometown and country whose landscape and culture had a major influence on his work.

Above all Zorn was known as a portrait painter. Many of his portraits were painted in the USA where he gained an almost unimaginable success. Bankers, captains of industry and politicians were prepared to pay huge sums to be painted by him. Even presidents featured amongst them; Grover Cleveland, William Taft as well as a portrait of Theodore Roosevelt was made by Zorn in the form of an etching. However, at the end of the 1880's Zorn began to work in the genre which would come to characterise him more and more - the study of the nude in the open air.

Like many of the old masters, Zorn was a versatile artist: a painter in oils and watercolors, he was also an etcher, drawer, sculptor, and designer. Zorn seemed to be capable of everything and no technique was foreign to him. He depicted just what he saw and did so with apparent ease.

During his life Anders Zorn amassed large quantities of art and art handicrafts. He also had plans to build a museum for his collections. However, it turned out to be his widow, Emma Zorn, together with the first curator of the museum, Professor Gerda Boëthius, who realised his plans. The Zorn Museum was completed in 1939 in his hometown of Mora.

The exhibition Anders Zorn: Sweden's Master Painter will be exhibited at the National Academy Museum February 27 – May 18, 2014.

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