Skip to content

Anders Zorn: Pioneering Swedish Artist Who Painted the Rich and Famous

Who is Anders Zorn?

Anders Leonard Zorn (18 February 1860 22 August 1920) was a Swedish painter, printmaker, and sculptor who achieved international success.

He was one of Sweden's foremost artists, and his work is known for its naturalism, and for depicting scenes of everyday life.

Zorn was born in Mora, Dalarna, in central Sweden. His parents were poor, and he was forced to leave school at the age of 12 and take up a job as a farmhand. However, he was given permission to attend art classes in Stockholm, and he showed a talent for drawing at an early age. At the age of 19, he was accepted to the Royal Academy of Arts in Stockholm, where he studied under the prominent artists Johan Fredrik Höckert and Per Krafft.

In 1881, he was awarded a scholarship to study abroad in France and Italy, and he stayed there for the next four years. During this time, he developed his own individualistic style, combining elements of Impressionism, Realism, and Symbolism. He also began to experiment with etching and aquatint printmaking.

In 1885, Zorn returned to Sweden and opened a studio in Stockholm.

Zorn died in 1920, leaving behind a legacy of masterful works of art. His works can be found in major collections around the world, including the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, and the Musée d'Orsay in Paris.

He had a long and successful career and was a popular portrait painter, creating powerful images of his sitters. His works often display a keen sense of color and movement. He created some of the most iconic images of Sweden's history and culture, including Gustav Vasa at the Battle of Uppsala and King Karl XII at Lund.

He traveled extensively in Europe, the United States, and the Orient, becoming one of the most acclaimed artists of his time.

Anders Zorn was a prolific artist, producing a wide range of works that are still highly sought after today. He was a major figure of Swedish art, and his works are a testament to his creativity and skill.


The Black Feather Hat (1888) Zorn


What inspired Anders Zorn to become an artist?

Anders Zorn was inspired to become an artist by his natural artistic ability and his family's encouragement. He was encouraged by his father, who was a craftsman, to pursue his passion for art. Zorn was also influenced by the Dutch masters and their techniques, which he studied and emulated. He was also inspired by the natural beauty of his native Sweden, which he often captured in his work.


Self Portrait - Anders Zorn 1896


How did you become so skilled at etching?

Zorn was also an accomplished etcher, producing hundreds of prints. He was a master of the technique, and his works are highly sought after. He created etchings of landscapes, animals, and city scenes, as well as portraits. His etchings often display a great sense of detail and texture.

Anders Zorn became so skilled at etching by studying the work of the great etchers of the past and through endless practice. He also experimented with different techniques to refine his technique, such as using a combination of etching and drypoint to produce deeper and more varied tones. Zorn was particularly adept at creating atmospheric effects and delicate tonal gradations in his etchings. 

Anders Zorn Etchings

He began producing etchings in 1883 and continued to work in the medium until around 1910. He was known for his ability to capture the expressiveness of his subjects in his prints, which often featured people and landscapes. His etchings were highly sought after during his lifetime and remain popular today. They can be found in major museums around the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the National Gallery in London. 

Anders Zorn Famous Etchings

He was a prolific artist, producing over 400 etchings during his lifetime. His most famous etchings include:

Self-Portrait (1896)

His self-portrait etching is a work of art that shows him in a contemplative pose, with his eyes closed and his hands folded in his lap. The figure of Zorn is surrounded by a deep-black background, which adds to the contemplative atmosphere of the piece. The etching is a powerful and intimate representation of the artist, and provides insight into his inner thoughts and feelings.

Anders Zorn (1896) Self portrait etching


The Sisters (1893)

This etching is a beautiful portrait of two sisters, likely done around the late 19th century. The sisters are seated in a room, side by side, looking away from each other. The room is filled with an array of objects, like a vase, books, and a chair, giving the image a sense of depth and realism. The sisters are both wearing traditional clothing - the younger sister wearing a dress with a bow on her head, while the older sister wears a dress with a shawl over her shoulders.

Zorn's use of light and shadow helps to bring out the details of their faces and clothing, and gives the image a sense of drama. The image is a perfect example of Zorn's mastery of etching, and is sure to be a timeless classic.

Anders Zorn The Sisters (1893)

National Costumes of Sweden (1890–1894)

The work was created in 1894 and is currently held in the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm, Sweden.

In the early 1890s, Anders Zorn worked on a series of etchings depicting Swedish folk costumes. He drew the costumes from his travels throughout Sweden and worked with the Royal Swedish Academy of Arts to obtain the necessary materials. The etchings were published in an album entitled Svenska Folkdräkter (Swedish National Costumes) in 1894.

National Costumes of Sweden is a three-plate etching that depicts two Swedish women in traditional folk costumes. The figures are surrounded by a thick-lined border and a thin-lined border that includes the artist's monogram and the title of the work. The etching is composed of a soft, muted palette of greens, blues, and browns.

Other notable etchings by Zorn

Other notable etchings include:

Midsummer Dance (1899)

The etching "Midsummer Dance" by Anders Zorn was created in 1887. It is an etching on paper with a plate size of 6.7 x 8.9 inches (17 x 23 cm).

The etching depicts a traditional Swedish Midsummer Dance with a group of people dancing around a Maypole. The etching is signed and dated by the artist in the lower right corner.

It is one of Zorn's most iconic works and is highly sought after by collectors.

Midsummer Dance (1899) Anders Zorn

Sailors at a Tavern (1899)

This etching by the Swedish artist Anders Zorn depicts a scene of sailors enjoying a tavern dance.

The etching shows the jovial atmosphere of the sailors, as the men are shown dancing, chatting, and playing instruments. The etching has a loose, energetic line quality that gives the image a sense of movement and life.

The print is done in black and white which gives it a classic, timeless look. 

Midsummer Eve (1902)

Midsummer Eve is an etching created by Swedish artist Anders Zorn in 1890.

The etching shows a woman standing in a meadow, with a man and a dog standing nearby. The woman is dressed in a fashionable dress and has a bouquet of flowers in her hands. The man is wearing a suit and hat, and the dog is sitting at his feet. The scene is set against a background of trees and a lake.

The etching has become one of Zorn's most popular works, and is often used to represent the spirit of midsummer in Sweden.


What is the most meaningful artwork Anders Zorn have created?

The most meaningful artwork created by Anders Zorn is his 1890 painting, "Sjalvportratt med modersmedaljong" (Self-Portrait with Mother's Medallion).

This painting was a tribute to his mother, who had passed away a few years earlier. The painting depicts Zorn wearing his mother's medallion, which was a symbol of her love and support for him.

The painting captures the emotional connection between mother and son and serves as a reminder of the powerful bond that exists between family members.


What elements do Anders Zorn consider when composing a painting?

When composing a painting, Anders Zorn considered elements such as composition, color, light, texture, and form. He also thought about how to create a sense of atmosphere and emotion in his work. Zorn also placed great importance on the balance between the elements in the painting, and he was known to experiment with different techniques in order to achieve the desired results.


What is Anders Zorn creative process like?

Anders Zorn's creative process was one of experimentation and exploration. He was known for his use of bold colors and strong brushstrokes, often blending traditional Impressionist and Realist styles of painting to create his own unique style. He also took risks with his compositions, often breaking the rules of traditional painting to create something new and unexpected. Zorn was a master of observation and was known for his ability to capture the essence of his subjects in his paintings. He also was an avid experimenter with light and shadow, using these elements to create atmosphere and mood in his works.


What materials did Anders Zorn use to create his paintings?

Anders Zorn used a variety of media to create his paintings, including oil paints, tempera paints, gouache, watercolors, and pastels. He also used pencils and charcoal for drawing.

What techniques did he employ in his painting process?

Anders Zorn often employed a technique called "skuggning" (or "shading"), which involved gradually adding layers of pigment to create a softly blended effect, as well as using glazes to create a rich, luminous feel. He also often used vigorous brushstrokes to build up the surface of the painting.

How did he create a sense of light and atmosphere in his paintings?

Anders Zorn often used color and value to create a sense of light and atmosphere in his paintings. He would often choose colors that were slightly different in hue and value to create a sense of depth and atmosphere. He also used glazes to create a luminous effect and to create a sense of atmosphere.

Anders Zorn palette

His paintings typically feature a limited palette of muted, earthy tones, with an emphasis on light and shadow to create a dramatic effect. His trademark style combines a strong sense of light and dark to create a sense of atmosphere and emotion. By limiting his palette, Zorn was able to achieve an intensity of light and color that is difficult to replicate in other styles. Zorn’s limited palette technique has inspired countless artists and continues to be a cornerstone of beautiful artwork today.

He often used monochromatic colors, such as black and white, or a range of blues or earthy colors. He would then add highlights, shadows, and details using the colors he had chosen. By limiting the colors he used, Zorn was able to create paintings that had a strong sense of unity and harmony. He also believed that using a limited palette helped him to focus on the essence of his subject matter and to express his ideas more clearly.

The palette includes a range of warm and cool colors, including some earth tones and bright, vibrant hues. The colors are meant to be expressive and evoke emotion, and are particularly useful for portraits and landscapes. The palette includes the following hues:

• Cadmium Orange

• Cadmium Red Light

• Cadmium Red Deep

• Alizarin Crimson

• Ultramarine Blue

• Cobalt Blue

• Cerulean Blue

• Viridian Green

• French Ochre

• Burnt Sienna

• Burnt Umber

• Ivory Black

• Paynes Gray

• Naples Yellow

• Yellow Ochre

• Raw Umber

• Titanium White

Zorn's limited palette example is the use of three colors—black, white, and red—in his paintings. He often used the three colors to create a monochromatic effect, often with a single color dominating the painting. This technique was seen in many of his works, such as his self-portrait from 1892 and his portrait of his wife, Emma Zorn, from 1895. The use of the three colors together gave his paintings a distinct, moody and intense atmosphere.

Anders Zorn Landscape Palette

A zorn landscape palette could feature muted blues and greens to mimic a misty morning feel, with deep purples and browns to create a sense of depth. Accents of yellow and orange can be used to create a sunrise or sunset effect, while grey or white can be used to create a cloudy sky.

The Anders Zorn Color Wheel

It's a visual representation of the color. The color wheel consists of 12 colors arranged in a circle, with each color representing a primary, secondary, tertiary, or complement. The colors are arranged according to the traditional color wheel, with the three primary colors (red, yellow, and blue) at the top, then the three secondary colors (orange, green, and purple) below, and the six tertiary colors (red-orange, yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-green, blue-purple, and red-purple) at the bottom. The complementary colors are located opposite each other on the wheel, and the analogous colors are located next to each other. The color wheel can be used to create a variety of different color combinations and hues.


What themes are important to Anders Zorn in his artwork?

Themes important to Anders Zorn in his artwork include Swedish folklore, rural landscapes, and the natural beauty of the country. He was also passionate about portraiture, depicting powerful and influential figures of the day. His use of light and shadow was a signature style that gave his work a distinct quality. He often used bold colors and heavy brushstrokes to create dynamic scenes. 

Anders Zorn famous paintings?

1. Self-Portrait with Horn (1880)

Self-Portrait with Horn is a painting by the Swedish artist Anders Zorn, painted in 1895. The painting depicts the artist wearing a blue coat, holding a hunting horn in one hand and a palette and brush in the other. Zorn used a palette knife and thick paint to create a textured effect in the painting.

The painting is an example of Zorn's bold use of color and texture in his work. His use of bright, vibrant colors gives the painting a sense of energy and movement, which is further enhanced by the textured brushstrokes. The painting also displays Zorn's skill in capturing a sense of realism in a portrait, as the subject looks directly at the viewer with an intense expression.

The painting is currently held in the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm, Sweden. It is an example of Zorn's artistic skill, and is considered to be one of his most important works. 


2. The White Veil (1880) 

It was completed in 1889 and is currently in the collection of the National Museum of Fine Arts in Stockholm.

The painting is an image of a woman wearing a white veil. The woman is seated against a dark background, her face partially obscured by the veil.

The painting is meant to evoke a sense of mystery and intrigue, as the identity of the woman and her story remain unknown.


3. Self-Portrait with Palette (1884)

This self-portrait by Anders Zorn is an oil on canvas painting from 1894. It depicts Zorn standing in front of an easel, holding a palette in one hand and a brush in the other. He is wearing an artist's smock and has a contemplative expression on his face.

The painting is notable for its detailed depiction of the artist's studio, including various pieces of furniture, a window, and a painting on the wall. The palette held by Zorn is full of vibrant colors, further emphasizing the artist's profession and skill. The painting is part of the permanent collection of the National Museum of Fine Arts in Stockholm, Sweden.


4. The Convalescent (1885)

The Convalescent was completed in 1885. It depicts a woman whose illness has made her weak, resting and recovering in a chair. Her posture and expression suggest that she is in the process of regaining her strength and vitality.

The painting's muted colors and soft light create a peaceful, calming atmosphere that conveys the woman's progress towards recovery.

The painting is a testament to Zorn's ability to capture the intimate moments of life with subtlety and grace.


5. The Sisters of the Artist (1886)

The Sisters of the Artist are a group of Swedish women who are descendants of Zorn.

The group was founded in 2002 to honor the legacy of their famous ancestor, the renowned Swedish painter Anders Zorn. The group seeks to promote his works, and to celebrate his life and his contributions to Swedish culture. Members of the group organize events and exhibitions dedicated to Zorn’s work, and provide educational programs for students and the general public on the artist’s life and works.

Additionally, they work to preserve and promote Zorn’s legacy through the preservation of his artistic works, and by providing an archive of his works, documents and materials related to him.


6. The Beggar (1880)

The beggar had been walking for miles, his feet sore and his stomach empty. He had been hoping to come across a generous soul who could spare a few coins or a morsel of food. As he made his way along the road, he spotted a man in the distance. He was dressed in fine clothes and seemed to be a well-to-do gentleman.

The beggar approached him, holding out his hand in hopes of receiving some charity. But instead of offering the beggar a few coins, the gentleman took out a brush and canvas and began to paint the beggar’s portrait. The beggar was taken aback, but stood still as the man worked.

When the painting was finished, the gentleman signed it “Anders Zorn,” and handed it to the beggar. The beggar was moved by the act of kindness and thanked the gentleman, who simply nodded and continued on his way. The beggar, however, held on to the painting, treasuring it more than any amount of money he could have received.

The painting, now known as “The Beggar”, is now regarded as one of Anders Zorn’s most famous works. It has been widely reproduced and is a reminder of the power of kindness and generosity.


7. The Bridal Procession (1884)

The Bridal Procession is a painting depicting a traditional wedding procession in the Swedish countryside.

The painting is an oil on canvas and was completed in 1885. In the painting, the bride is dressed in white and is being escorted by five musicians and a number of attendants. The procession is making its way through a village, passing by houses and trees. The sky is a deep blue, and the light from the sun is shining down on the procession.

The painting conveys a sense of joy and celebration, and the bride and her attendants seem to be in a state of bliss. The painting captures the beauty of a traditional Swedish wedding and the festive atmosphere of the celebration.


8. The Last Supper (1890)

The Last Supper is an oil painting created in 1898. It depicts Jesus and his disciples seated around a long table in a darkened room, illuminated by a single candle in the center.

The painting has become a powerful symbol of the last meal Jesus shared with his apostles before his death. The image has been widely used in Christian art and culture, and has been reproduced in countless forms, from tapestries to stained glass windows.


9. The Black Feather Hat (1888)

The Black Feather Hat is a painting that depicts a woman wearing a black hat with feathers. She is seen posing in a seated position with her hands resting on her lap. The painting has a strong sense of elegance and sophistication, capturing the style of the late nineteenth century. The hat is the focal point of the painting and its black feathers contrast with the woman's complexion and auburn hair.

The painting is a classic example of Zorn's work, which often featured women in a romanticized and idealized state.


10. The Blacksmith (1893)

The Blacksmith is a painting created in 1891. The painting depicts a blacksmith working at his forge in a rural setting, with a village and hills in the background.

Zorn's work often focused on rural scenes, and The Blacksmith is a classic example of this.

The painting shows the blacksmith at work, his tools, and the materials he is working with. The painting is done in a naturalistic style, with the blacksmith's face and hands detailed with realistic accuracy.

The painting has been well-received, with many viewers praising its vivid depiction of the rural setting and the blacksmith's skill.


Anders Zorn Watercolors

He was known for his portraiture and landscapes, but his watercolors are especially sought after because of their unique style.

Zorn's watercolors often feature bright colors and a strong use of light and shadow. He was a master at incorporating different elements, such as the human figure, nature, and architecture, and could create a sense of drama and mood with his paintings.

Anders Zorn famous watercolor Paintings

1. Self-Portrait with Model (1890)

This painting is a self-portrait of the artist Anders Zorn. It was created using the medium of watercolor. The painting shows Zorn seated with a model in a studio.

The model is dressed in a long white dress and her pose is relaxed. The painting has a bold and vibrant color palette.

The blues and purples are especially vibrant and create a dream-like atmosphere. The details of the model and Zorn's face are rendered in fine detail, while the background is more abstract.

Overall, this painting is a beautiful and captivating work of art.

2. Midsummer Dance (1893)

The painting depicts a group of dancers in a meadow, surrounded by trees and flowers.

The vivid colors and loose brushstrokes create a sense of movement and joy, and the bright sunlight illuminates the scene.

The painting captures the spirit of a midsummer dance, and it is a perfect example of Zorn's impressionistic style.

3. In the Hammock (1897)

This is a beautiful watercolor painting by Anders Zorn. It depicts a woman in a hammock on a bright summer day. The woman is wearing a white dress and has her hair up in a bun. Her face is turned towards the viewer, with her eyes closed and mouth slightly open. The colors in the painting are soft and muted, but the sun is creating a warm, inviting atmosphere. The scene is peaceful and serene, creating a tranquil atmosphere for the viewer.

4. The Tub (1899)

One of his most famous works is a painting of a wooden tub filled with water. This painting, entitled “The Tub”, is an intimate, tender scene of a woman washing her hands and face in a wooden tub. The painting is rendered in soft colors and has a melancholy mood. 

5. After the Bath (1905)

The painting, titled After the Bath, was created in 1891 and has been in the collection of the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm since 1945. The painting depicts a young woman in a white robe, emerging from a bath and stepping onto a rug. The woman is seen from the back and her face is partially obscured. The painting is executed in a loose and impressionistic style, with soft, blurred brushstrokes and a limited palette of colors. 

6. The Spanish Dancer (1907)

The Spanish Dancer watercolor painting by Anders Zorn is a stunning piece of art. Depicting a woman dancing gracefully with a fan in her hands, the painting captures the movement and emotion of the dance. The vibrant colors and delicate brushstrokes create a beautiful composition that captures the beauty of the dancer and the dance. 

7. In the Boat (1908)

The painting “In the Boat” is an impressionistic watercolor painting depicting a woman in a boat on a lake. The painting is characterized by its loose brushwork and soft, muted colors. The woman appears to be in a contemplative state, as she stares off into the distance. The background is composed of a variety of blues and greens that evoke a sense of tranquility and peace. The delicate touches of pink in the sky and the woman’s clothing add a touch of warmth and life to the painting. Overall, the painting creates a peaceful and serene atmosphere.

8. Midsummer Eve (1910)

It depicts a woman sitting in a field of flowers in a rural landscape in the bright light of summer. The figure is framed by tall trees, and a blue sky is visible in the background. The painting is in the collection of the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm, Sweden.

9. In the Meadow (1911)

This beautiful watercolor painting by Swedish artist Anders Zorn depicts a meadow with a small stream running through it. The painting is composed of vibrant, earthy colors, which give the painting a tranquil and peaceful feeling. The sky is painted in a light, pastel blue and is dotted with clouds. In the foreground, there are trees and tall grasses, while in the background, a small village can be seen. The painting is a beautiful representation of a peaceful countryside setting, and captures the beauty of nature.

10. Girls Bathing (1913)

The painting depicts a moment of childhood innocence and joy, with the girls splashing and playing in the bathtub. The vibrant colors and lively brushstrokes give the painting a dreamy quality, while the figures are depicted in a realistic, anatomically correct style. This painting is a delightful example of Zorns mastery of light and color, and its sure to bring a smile to anyones face.


What are the challenges Anders Zorn faced in his career as an artist?

The primary challenge Anders Zorn faced during his career was his limited training in art. Zorn was largely self-taught and had little formal training in the technique and theory of painting. As a result, he often struggled to create realistic works of art.

He also encountered difficulty in achieving a consistent style of painting, as his interests in subject matter were varied and he often experimented with different techniques.

Additionally, as a Swedish artist, he encountered difficulty in gaining recognition and critical acclaim in Europe, as the art world of the time was largely dominated by French and British art. 


What advice would Anders Zorn give to aspiring artists?

Anders Zorn's advice to aspiring artists would be to focus on mastering the fundamentals of art-making.

He believed that the only way to become a great artist was to practice and draw from life, to study the works of other artists, and to develop ones own individual style.

He also recommended dedicating time to reflection and self-criticism as a way to further develop ones work.