The article below was published in Pinnable’s newsletter in . The exhibition Anders Zorn — The Swedish Idyll ended on 31 January 2021.

Kunstmuseum Den Haag

Anders Zorn’s Swedish Idyll

Anders Zorn (1860–1920) was one of the greatest Swedish painters at the turn of the previous century, but he has largely escaped the attention of the public in the rest of Europe. Until 31 January 2021, the Kunstmuseum in The Hague presents a retrospective of his work, bringing together paintings, watercolours & etchings, most of which depict idyllic scenes that we still broadly associate with life in Scandinavia. Like many of his European contemporaries, Zorn feared that his country’s traditional way of life was about to disappear, and he set out to chronicle life in Sweden. His success as an artist had taken him all over the world, painting portraits of the great & the good, but in his later work we see a cosmopolitan falling in love with home again after travelling far & wide.

Anders Zorn: Study of a Nude
Study of a Nude (1891–1892)

In 1889, at the Universal Exposition in Paris, Zorn made his breakthrough as a plein-air artist, painting landscapes as a setting for scenes from daily life. Eight years later he created Midsummer Dance, probably his most famous picture, which he referred to as ‘the work that expresses my innermost self’. However, it was not his innermost self that made him so popular with the public — it was his female nudes. Zorn introduced a new sensuality to the genre by painting his models not only in the studio, but also in natural surroundings, paddling through rippling water or strolling in green meadows. I tend to think that Zorn did his best work in etching, and that some of the etchings on display are among the highlights of this exhibition.

Reader comment


Anders Zorn’s nudes are typical examples of the male gaze and quite likely another expression of his innermost self.