Anders Zorn became most famous for his nude figure scenes and his portraits of high society. However, it is rare in his oeuvre to find such an intimate and sensual study as Soir (Kväll/Evening). The small scale of the work, the spontaneity of the brushstrokes and the compromising provocative pose of the model in the bedroom all lend a distinct intimacy to a subject that the artist painted numerous times.
In a work such as this, there are natural comparisons to be drawn between the Impressionist masters in Paris and the Swede that introduced Impressionism to Scandinavia. Not only the compositional elements of their studies including the foreshortening and photographic cropping of the scene, but the interior toilette scenes by Edgar Degas of the same period have evoked comparisons to how the artists conquered the representation of the female form and their approach towards women in general within society. Both artists focused on the intimate feminine world of bedrooms, dressing, undressing and bathing, often painting women engaged in the most private rituals of their daily life.
While Degas and Zorn were naturally drawn to the time-honoured theme of the nude in their art, there is a distinct difference in the sensuality they portrayed their subjects. While Degas was a self-confessed 'celibate' who frequented brothels to draw and paint (though famously not to satisfy his more carnal desires) and who criticised himself later on in life for having viewed women purely as 'animals', Zorn on the other hand, appreciated women on three different levels: as 'a model, a wife and a lover'. The artist has made it known that his desire to paint these models was not entirely divorced from his more carnal desires for women in general: 'I have always been charmed by woman and did not always approach her with the purest and most angelic intentions. As one of strong physical build with strong natural impulses, I, like Bellman, have been able to say "and loves with unceasing flame the woman". It has so impressed my art that everywhere it is said to be "strongly sensual". Gradually however, when the former gets the palette and brush in his hand, the artist dominates over the man...Thus for example, I have the same model for two consecutive summers, possessing the qualities for stimulating my desires, and yet have not allowed myself to be overcome by these desires'. (G. Boëthius, Anders Zorn: An International Swedish Artist: His Life and Work, Stockholm, 1953, p. 67).
Little was known about Degas 'the person' rather than Degas 'the artist', hence the criticisms that his nude studies were cold and voyeuristic. However, knowing Zorn 'the artist' as we do, and the nature of his relationships with his models we sense his appreciation for the female form in all its' guises; at once voyeuristic and critical, exciting and sensual - qualities for which have made such studies so highly esteemed.