Zorn at the Legion of Honor: beautiful people

Just in the nick of time, we made it to the Anders Zorn show at the Legion of Honor. It was worth it for the watercolors alone, which were luminous and lifelike – perfectly balanced on the tension-filled point between being overworked or prettily unfinished.

I thought Castles in the Air was particularly impressive for the face in medium-shadow, the glowing coral fingertips, and the incandescent parasol.


Another of my favorites was a larger oil in a limited orange and purple palette, The Sisters Schwartz. It sticks in my mind both because of its caption, which stated that Zorn found the sisters – if I remember correctly, “thoroughly uninteresting” and was therefore pleasantly surprised that the painting could have come out so well, and because of the five odd purple brush punches in the lower right corner. It’s almost as if Zorn knew something had to be there for the composition to work, but just couldn’t stand another minute in the room.


What: Anders Zorn: Sweden’s Master Painter
Where: Legion of Honor, San Francisco
When: November 9, 2013 – February 2, 2014
Ambiance: everyday beauty, from a time when everyday beauty included hats and parasols