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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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An artist who loved to proclaim his emergence from poverty, Anders Zorn was an extraordinary character whose personality we delve deeper into here, via a number of quotes from his life and career.

This famous Swede had been brought up by his mother and grandparents due to the casual nature of her relationship with his father. Indeed he would never meet his father and perhaps this left a mark that would spur his own ambition once his artistic talents started to show. During his own lifetime he would see his career reach impressive levels, leaving behind a respected oeuvre that was well known across Europe and also in the US. To achieve so much from a country that was not part of the major art movements that were dominant in 19th century Europe, required a strong and confident character alongside his well documented natural artistic abilities.

Famous Quotes by Anders Zorn

I never spent much time thinking about others' art. I felt that if i wanted to become something, then i had to go after nature, with all my interest and energy, seek what i loved about it, and desire to steal its secret and beauty. I was entitled to become as great as anyone else, and in that branch of art so commanded by me, watercolour painting. I considered myself to have already surpassed all predecessors and contemporaries.

Not so cold, some snow fell. I went inside the log cabin and said goodbye to Mother, she was so alike grandmother, just younger.

Now, finally has the elevator arrived. The stairs was about to become a personal inferno.

Three peaceful weeks there in Princeton, with this splendid fellow and his delightful wife... and a number of idealists who had withdrawn from the world.

Artist describing his visit to meet Grover Cleveland and his wife Frances in 1899

What seems now to have particularly attracted me was the play of the water and the reflections, to really get the movement, put the ripples and everything in perspective and scientifically explain it all with meticulous sharpness.

This, my debut in oil, was a very successful debut indeed.

Describing Fishermen at Saint Ives

Quotes about Anders Zorn by Art Historians and Fellow Artists

It is no paradox when i say that when Zorn painted carefully, he painted quickly. Each brushstroke was precisely calculated before being executed. First the hand described the necessary motion in the air, and then the stroke was performed with style and confidence. Despite alterations caused by the model's movements, Zorn never painted anything, not the least thing, haphardly.

Axel Reinhold Lindholm

Zorn was at home here, as he was everywhere, just like a fish in water. He painted and etched exquisite works: Renan, Berthelot, Faure and Coquelin Cadet, their wives and mistresses.

Carl Larsson, describing Zorn in Paris

I prefer him painting watercolours, then i don't have those horrible brushes to wash out, and so far his watercolours have been better than his oil paintings.

Emma Zorn, early in his use of oils

When i was nineteen years old, i came to the Stockholm Art Academy. In the middle of a new world among a host of young artists with jauntily angled academy caps i perpetually heard the name Zorn mentioned, and it was enveloped in an aura of wonder and admiration, both for the man's phenomenal artistic gifts and for his whole original personality... Everyone could see that here was a man who had something to say, and would say it in such a clear and distinct voice that no contradictions were possible. If anyone asked what it was that caught us in the work, whether it was a trick of colouring, something original or modern, we could only answer, "It's so damn good."

Bruno Liljefors

One hundred years ago, Anders Zorn was among Europe’s most celebrated artists. Kings, presidents, bankers and cultural figures lined up to have their portraits painted by the Swede, and his etchings commanded prices higher than almost any other artist.


Anders Leonard Zorn was one of Sweden's foremost artists. He obtained international success as a painter, sculptor, and etcher. Among Zorn's portrait subjects were King Oscar II of Sweden, and three American Presidents, Grover Cleveland, William H. Taft, and Theodore Roosevelt.