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Anders Zorn: A European Artist Seduces America

Anders Zorn: A European Artist Seduces America


Accompanying a major exhibition at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, this publication re-evaluates the artistic achievements of the Swedish painter Anders Zorn, (1860–1920), one of the most significant artists of the Belle Époque but one who is still remarkably understudied.

Bringing his subjects to life with broad brushstrokes, Zorn experimented with different subjects and styles, absorbing and developing the latest trends, pushing them further. Moreover, he was a crucial disseminator of the latest Swedish art, connecting Scandinavia with Western Europe and with the United States. If we follow the breathless media coverage during Zorn's multiple stays in the States, we might well come to the conclusion that he seduced the nation. America was entirely taken by this "Prince of Art", who exhibited widely, showcasing his sweeping portraits of socialites, unashamed nudes and brilliant genre scenes.


Zorn's clients in the United States, especially his friendship with Isabella Gardner, forms a major focus of the book. Gardner was one of his most important patrons and a lifelong friend. It will be shown how mutually beneficial and inspiring this relationship was to both of them. Gardner helped Zorn procure commissions in and outside Boston, and by presenting new archival material, it will become clear just how much Zorn relied on her.


Zorn was an entrepreneur who was always looking for new clients. He masterfully navigated various countries and cultures, each of which preceived him differently. The various strategies he used to promote his art are investigated, and works of art created for different markets are compared here. For example, Isabella Stewart Gardner's version of Zorn's seminal The Omnibus is juxtaposed with its first version, originally conceived to be shown at the Salon in Paris. And, by bringing his most eminent and ambitious works from European and American collections together in the exhibition, for the first time a coherent view of Zorn's artistic development is shown.


Zorn's paintings and etchings were described by a contemporary critic as a "tonic" compared to what was being created by his fellow artists. The new evidence and interpretations in this book will allow us to reassess Zorn's inspired but often overled accomplishments, presenting him instead as an intoxicating artist, someone who is stil able to seduce the public.

  • Edited by Oliver Tostmann

    200 pages, paperback

    280 x 240 mm, 120 colour ills.
    ISBN: 978 1 907372 44 5

  • Exhibition

    Accompanying the exhibition, Anders Zorn: A European Artist Seduces America, at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, 28 February – 13 May 2013.

  • Contributors

    Oliver Tostmann with contributions by Hans Henrik Brummer, Anne-Marie Eze, Michelle Facos and Alexander auf der Heyde



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