Book, Brimfield spotlight Swedish Impressionist Anders Zorn

  • August 13, 2009 17:56

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Newly-published is Willow and William Hagans' "Zorn in America, A Swedish Impressionist of the Gilded Age."
Sargent's self-portrait

The massive Brimfield antiques fair, held three times yearly in rural western Massachusetts, attracts nearly 130,000 visitors over the course of one week.

It's perhaps the largest outdoor antiques show in the world, covering 23 fields, and hosting 6,000 exhibitors of antiques, art, collectibles, and bric-a-brac.

A Rhode Island man says he found a treasure in the July show. He claims to have unearthed a portrait depicting renowned American Impressionist John Singer Sargent (1856-1925), painted circa 1900 by Anders Zorn (1860-1920). The picture caught his eye at Brimfield's Heart of the Mart. He paid $200 for the unframed oil.

A grainy black-and-white image appeared online today with an account of the Brimfield find. Northeast Journal of Antiques reported that the discoverer, Barry King of Rhode Island, is seeking to authenticate the picture, and then resell it for a cool one million bucks.

Zorn and Sargent, premier artists of the Gilded Age, were friends and contemporaries painting in the impressionist style, creating superb etchings, and paying the bills with high society portraiture.

Both of these celebrity-artists were close to Boston's influential art collector of the period, the eccentric and passionate Mrs. Isabella Stewart Gardner. She was their companion, hostess, patron, and promoter.

At the Gardner Museum in Boston, Zorn's magnificent portrait of Mrs. Gardner at the Palazzo Barbaro in Venice is housed with Sargent's well-known portrait of the patroness. Several other works by both artists reside within Mrs. Gardner's collection of 14th-to-20th-century art.

Born of a German brewer father and Swedish peasant mother, Zorn first visited the U.S. in 1893. He painted a who's who of powerhouse Americans, from President Taft to Andrew Carnegie.

Today, Zorn is probably best known for his finely-rendered etchings and oil paintings of voluptuous nudes depicted in rural and domestic settings back in his homeland of Sweden.

At Brimfield, this portrait signed 'Anders Zorn' caught the eye of a dealer who thinks the sitter is artist John Singer Sargent.
Northeast Journal of Antiques

A newly-released book is set to shed more light on Zorn's experiences and output during his visits to the U.S. between 1893 and 1911. "Zorn in America, A Swedish Impressionist of the Gilded Age," is exhaustively-researched by William and Willow Hagans with an annotated list of works. Richly-illustrated with over 120 images, included are many rarely-seen works from private collections.

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