Aficionados of the genre, and I certainly count myself one, will sometimes refer to a triumvirate of painters as “Masters of the Loaded Brush”: John Singer Sargent, Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida and Anders Zorn. (See my posts here on Lines and Colors on John Singer Sargent and Joaquin Sorolla.)
This is a group that should be the definition when you look up the word “painterly”.
Of the three, Zorn is unjustly much less well known than Sargent and Sorolla (and to their number I would add the also unfairly discounted American painter Cecilia Beaux, but that’s another story).
Zorn is well known in his native country, and though highly regarded in 19th century European society as a portrait artist who rivaled, and competed with, Sargent, he has not been as well known to the world in general over the past century.
Of late, his star has risen, much as Sargent’s has in the last 20 years or so, and more attention is being paid to Zorn’s painterly mastery of portrait and figurative subjects.
Recently, in particular, there have been notable shows of Zorn’s work at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 2013, and in an exhibition titled Anders Zorn: Sweden’s Master Painter, organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, where it recently ended its run at the Legion of Honor, that is now on view at the National Academy Museum in New York.
Zorn was also a superb watercolorist and a master etcher, perhaps my third favorite after Rembrandt and Whistler. The retrospective now at the National Academy features over 90 works and will be on view until May 18, 2014.
An exhibition catalog has been published: Anders Zorn: Sweden’s Master Painter. There is a review by James Gurney on his always superb blog, Gurney Journey, where you can also find an article on the fascinating topic of the “Zorn palette“.
The smattering of examples here don’t begin to do justice to the depth of Zorn’s oeuvre, I will try to follow up with a more general post on Zorn with additional images and resources. See also my previous Lines and Colors post on Anders Zorn.
It is worth noting that the images previewed on the National Academy website open somewhat enlarged in a pop-up when clicked on. Though there is no mechanism to zoom, if you drag the images to your desktop, you will find that they are high-resolution, allowing you to marvel at Zorn’s wonderful brushwork.
[Thanks to Eric Kelly for the reminder.]