Swedish icons 18: Anders Zorn

Anders Zorn was born 1860 in Mora, county Dalarna. He is considered one of the most significant Swedish artists throughout history.

His works hang in several museums in Sweden, including the National Museum. He is also exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and Musée D’Orsay in Paris. Additionally, his portrait of President William Taft from 1911 is displayed in the White House in Washington DC. He also painted acclaimed portraits of Presidents Cleveland and Roosevelt.

Zorn was often away from Sweden and sought inspiration in Europe, USA, North Africa and Russia. He was internationally and critically revered and honored with many Swedish and international awards. He is renowned for his paintings of voluptuous naked women, countryside scenes, festivities and portraits. One of his most famous paintings is Midsummer Dance.

Zorn was known to be self-confident, gluttonous and chauvinistic. He loved to drink, smoke and party. Notoriously unfaithful to his wife Emma, he even invited one of his mistresses into their home in Mora. By all accounts his wife tolerated his bohemian lifestyle, although they lived separately for most of their lives.

Zorn’s exploits led to him contracting syphilis and his hedonistic ways contributed to an early death from blood poisoning aged 60 in 1920. Earlier the same year he and his wife founded the Bellman Prize – an award that still exists today and is awarded for excellence in poetry.

When Emma Zorn died some 22 years later, their house – Zorngården- became a museum and gallery, which is today one of Sweden’s most popular tourist destinations.

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