There is a specific charm to Northern painters and Anders Zorn, one of the most famous Swedish painters of the turn of the century (1860-1920), is no exception. Famous in America and in France at the time, he had totally disappeared from the Paris scene until Christophe Leribault resurrected him at Petit Palais. The exhibition which runs until December 17, is a moment of grace.
You walk into a red and white wooden room with a window and see Zorn’s self portrait in red painted in his studio of Mora in 1915, when he is already famous. One is already transported into the eternal summer lights of Sweden, the presence of water, the work in the fields at his grandmother’s time, and his International paintings from divine St Ives in Cornwall to America where he travelled many times.
Whether in his watercolors or in his oils and engravings, Zorn shows a talent and a taste for hard work that will make him famous. The paintings come mostly from the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm and his own museum in Mora, in Dalécarlie. The Bibliothèque Nationale has lent its collection of prints inherited from Alfred Beurdeley and the Curtis collection. These prints shown in a glass case are totally stunning.
His first successes are as portraitist in London when he is 22, followed by travels to North Africa, Istanbul, Spain and Sweden of course. He spends ten years in Paris on boulevad de Clichy and shows at Duran Ruel. He is with Boldini, Sargent and Carolus Duran one of the most sought after portraitist of the time, including in America.
But what enchanted me the most are the Swedish countryside scenes like the “Ball of St John” painted in 1897 or the “Cow keeper” in 1908 and his grandmother preparing lunch for the field workers. This exhibition makes us travel in our minds and visiting Sweden becomes a must !
Downstairs is an exceptional show of 130 pastels from the Petit Palais collection. As you know pastels do not travel well and it is therefore very exceptional to see such a variety in one spot. From Princesse Radziwill by Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun to Odilon Redon and Jacques-Emile Blanche, the collection is stunning and the fragility of the works gives it an even more dramatic twist. This charming Musée des Beaux Arts de la Ville de Paris has succeeded once again in keeping its intimacy. It is a smooth visit with beauty at its heart.
Anders Zorn until December 17 th and Pastels from Degas to Redon until April 8.
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