26 June 2007
Anders Zorn (Swedish, 1860-1920)
Vid spisen (By the fireplace)
signed and dated 'Zorn/98' (lower right)
oil on canvas
38¼ x 28¾ in. (97 x 73 cm.)
Painted in 1898
with Bruno and Paul Cassirer, Berlin (no. 471).
Anonymous sale, Bukowskis, Stockholm, 29 May 1996, lot 173.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
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G. Boëthius, Zorn: Tecknaren, Malaren, Etsaren, Skulptoren, Stockholm, 1949, pp. 367 and 548.
Stockholm, Riksforbundet for Bildande Konst, Anders Zorn, 1960, no. 59.
Anders Zorn moved back to his hometown of Mora in the province of Dalarna in Sweden in 1896. Having spent much of his career travelling and living in England and France, meeting and working with major contemporary artists, particularly in Paris, Zorn returned to his roots to paint indigenous scenes with an enlightened eye.
With increasing industrialisation and the displacement of the rural population to the cities, there was a renewed concern in the 1890s for the preservation of the vanishing peasant culture. It was the province of Dalarna that came to be known as having conserved most carefully the traditional Swedish way of life and it was Zorn's deeply entrenched interest in his native culture that led him to support and encourage the local arts and folk events that were so prevalent in his work.
Vid spisen (By the fireplace) is one of a number of oils painted in Mora that shows how the artist, of now international fame, had fully-adopted the new avant-garde techniques for his traditional scenes from his rural life. They come as a stunning contrast to the glamorous portraits of Swedish and foreign luminaries and patrons of the arts. The one defining similarity between the portraits of this period lies not in the subject but in the execution and fascinated by the extraordinary light and mood at home, Zorn painted the present work with as much thought and passion as any high profile commission. Particular to his interior studies and saunas, is his use of the striking bright oranges and reds in contrast to the subtle beige hues of the surroundings and model's flesh that bathe the scene with a warm light.
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