Anders Zorn, Sweden
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Anders Zorn Biography
born 1860 - died 1920
Anders Zorn was born in Mora on February 18, 1860, was the son of Grudd Anna Andersdotter, usually called Mona, "mother" in Mora dialect. Her family were farmers and she contributed to the family's income by working elsewhere. She had seasonal work in a brewery in Uppsala where she met the German brewer Leonhard Zorn, who became her son's father. There was no discussion of marriage and Anders Zorn never met his father who died in Helsinki in 1872. But the son was acknowledged and allowed to carry his father's name.
Zorn was raised by his
grandparents in Mora and at the age of 12
he was sent to a school in Enköping. At the age
of 15 Anders Zorn entered the Royal Academy of Art in
Stockholm. As a young boy he had shown an
unusual artistic ability and attention was
drawn to the horses and human figures he carved in wood. Anders Zorn planned to become a
sculptor but soon painting prevailed. He choose
water colours, a technique which was
rather uncommon at the time and this became
his main technique until around 1887.
At the Student exhibition in 1880, Zorn showed the water colour In mourning (National museum, Stockholm), which propelled him into the art world. The painting illustrates a young girl in mourning and it was admired for its skilfulness; the way Anders Zorn painted the sad young face under the veil.
The first years of their marriage were highly stimulating for Anders Zorn paintings. Emma Zorn's encouragement and critical analysis of his painting played a decisive role in his artistic growth. It was during these years that his ability as an aquarellist reached its peak. Some of the most appealing Anders Zorn paintings made during this period are those with water motifs such as a series depicting the beautiful light over the harbour of Constantinople. Dating from this period are also some of his most well-known water colours, such as The Thornbush (Anders Zorn collections) and Summer Vacation (private collection, sketch in the Zorn collections). The most famous Anders Zorn watercolor painting, Our daily bread, was made in Mora in 1886 as a commission from the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm.
From 1889 to 1894 a number of Anders Zorn paintings were produced, which earned him a prominent position in the Parisian art world. This position was confirmed during the Paris World Fair in 1889. The 29-year-old Zorn was awarded the French Legion of Honour and was asked to paint his self portrait for the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. - Supplies his biography, seascape oil painting landscapes and female nude art of Swedish paintings.
It was primarily his skill as a portrait painter that gained Anders Zorn international acclaim. his incisive ability to depict the individual character of his model is, for example, apparent in portraits of prominent cultural personalities, Antonin Proust (1888, private collection) and Coquelin Cadet (1889, Nationalmuseum). The model's surroundings were important; Anders Zorn believed that a portrait should be painted in an environment that was natural for the model. An artificial studio environment was not to his taste.
Anders Zorn completed a number of genre paintings which focused on the depiction of light and shadow. The motifs were very different. In The Waltz (1891, private collection, USA) the dark cabinet in the foreground is lit by the lights of the ballroom in the background. In Omnibus (1892, Fenway Court, Boston, variation in the National museum) the lights flicker uneasily over the passengers of a Paris bus. The lights from a street lamp and the window of a café reflect on the red dress worn by a prostitute in Night Effect (1895, Gothenburg Art Museum).
During the summers in Mora, some extraordinary Anders Zorn paintings were painted where light plays a decisive role, foremost Midnight (1891, Zorn collection) with a woman rowing in the shadowless summerlight and in Margit (1891, Zorn collection) a girl braids her hair in the rays of light from a small window.
At about the same time that Anders Zorn moved to Paris he began working with the motif that he became renowned for, the girl body depicted outdoors. The movement of water and the reflection of light on its surface had long fascinated him. Now Anders Zorn further complicated the situation by placing a model beside or in the water. The first paintings Anders Zorn completed in this genre are Outdoors (1888, Gothenburg Art Museum), Une Première (several versions, e.g. in Nationalmuseum) and Les Baigneuses (private collection, version in the Zorn collections).
|In 1893, the Columbian World Fair was arranged in Chicago. He was chosen as the superintendent of the Swedish art exhibition and travelled to the States. Anders Zorn stayed for almost a year. This trip to the USA, the first of seven, was very important for him. He enjoyed the American lifestyle and felt at home there. This first trip to the States was also of great importance for his art. Subsequent visits to the USA were in 1896-1897, and 1898-1899, 1900-1901, 1903-1904, 1907, and 1911. Anders Zorn generally travelled during the fall, winter and spring. The 1907 trip was primarily for pleasure, but the others included a large number of paintings, mostly portraits. Naturally, the high points were the commissions to portray American presidents: Grover Cleveland and his wife (1899, National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC) and William Taft, (1911, the White House). Anders Zorn made an etching of Theodore Roosevelt in 1905. One of the benefits of the presidential portraits was the number of commissions that he received in the USA. The majority of these more than one hundred paintings are still privately owned, but there are also good Anders Zorn paintings in several museums, e.g. St Louis and Chicago.|
The move to Mora from Paris also resulted in
a change of motif for him. Many Anders Zorn paintings illustrating Mora and its
residents, such as his most famous painting,
Midsummer Dance (1896, Nationalmuseum) which
was also the painting that Zorn himself
valued most of all. his love for
country is also depicted in paintings such
as The Shepherdess (1908), The Horn Blower
(1905) and Christmas Morning Service (1908,
all in Zorn Collections). The portrait
commissions took a lot of his artistic
energy. Anders Zorn developed a concise treatment of
detail and a more sweeping brushstroke than
earlier. By now his reputation as a skilled
portraitist had reached the upper classes.
Various members of the Swedish royal family
posed for Anders Zorn and the most exquisite of
these is Queen Sofia (1909, Waldemarsudde,
Stockholm), with its wonderful use of white.
The painting is an outstanding example of
his mastery of technique.
Beginning in 1910, Zorn focused on developing his control of the technique and motif. Anders Zorn accomplished this with such certainty that the process of painting can assume the dominant role, sometimes to the detriment of the work's emotional expression. Two Anders Zorn paintings are exceptions Self-portrait in Red and Self-portrait in a Wolfskin, both from 1915 (Zorn collections). Also the girl body studies changed: The rather sturdy peasant women are shown in their own environment in cottages or by the water, i.e. Mother and Daughter (1909, Anders Zorn collections).
The international esteem Zorn received was not based solely on his paintings. Anders Zorn was an exquisite etcher as well. He had worked with this technique since 1882. He had developed his abilities and was now highly accomplished. Zorn produced 289 etchings, a number of which are very well known, among them the portrait of Ernest Renan (1892), August Rodin (1906) and August Strindberg (1910). Anders Zorn admired and collected the etched paintings of Rembrandt and considered him to be his artistic forefather in this particular medium.
Zorn's astounding skill with the etching
needle can be partially traced to his
ability with a carving knife. As mentioned
earlier, He had first intended to become a
sculptor. Throughout his life Anders Zorn returned to
sculpture and the high point in this
particular art is the statue of Gustav Vasa
in Mora, inaugurated in 1903. Zorn also
sculpted a number of portraits and small
statues, among them Morning Bath (1909), a
figure of a girl who holds a sponge in her
hands from which a fountain spouts.
His health deteriorated markedly during his last years. Anders Zorn died on August 22, 1920. The funeral was conducted by Archbishop Nathan Söderblom and attended among others by representatives of the Swedish royal family and many cultural personalities. Anders Zorn is buried in Mora Cemetery.
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