Till this point, I'd seen very few Zorn original paintings in life. I'm not sure why that is, perhaps just not paying attention? But for me his peers (Sargent & Sorolla) seem more prevalent in the major museums around the world, especially Sargent's work. It was great to see the exhibition and to learn more about the artist, in some ways it reshaped my views on the artist and his work, in others is sharpened and clarified them.
I was fascinated to learn how successful he had been commanding a salary of $1500 a week. That's pretty good today, but a fortune in his time. There's some nice photos in the exhibition of him through the years, it's fun to see the clothes from the era and his waistline expand as the years march on. There's also shots of his Swedish home, a log cabin. Over the years he modified and expanded it in keeping with his lucrative success. It reminded me perhaps of a toned down Swedish version of William Randolph Hearst and Hearst Castle. Of course I'm sure that anyone who reaches the point of vast wealth likes to 'trick out their home'!
If I'm honest, Zorns work has never had the same strength or appeal to me as many a Sargent portrait or watercolor. Nor does his work comes close to the best that Sorolla has to offer, who's beach scenes and his handling of water are hard to beat! Having said that it's hard to criticize, his handling of his 'nymph like' nude models, paddling on the shores of lakes and rivers. They are so beautiful, subtlety rendered and hard to criticize. Additionally his rendering of water both in oil and watercolor is flawless, and astounding to behold.
To sum up, I'm really glad I went to the exhibition and enjoyed getting the opportunity to see his work. And it is truly impressive, however for me, (as mentioned earlier) I'd take Sorolla and Sargent above him any day. Perhaps just a statement of the high mark that all 3 artists achieved?