Anders Zorn was born in Mora, in Dalarna, in 1860 and was one of the most popular painters in turn-of-the-century Sweden.
He was the illegitimate son of Grudd-Anna, who had met his father, a German brewer by the name of Leonard Zorn, while he was working in Uppsala. Leonard Zorn worked at the same brewery as Grudd-Anna. Anders Zorn was brought up by his maternal grandparents and at an early age showed great talent for drawing. He was sent to study at the Stockholm Technical School and later at the Academy of Fine Arts. He paid many educational visits to France, England and Spain, and at the turn of the century and for several years afterwards he travelled to the USA.
He belongs to the group known as the Opponents, headed by his friend and fellow-painter Ernst Josephson. They rebelled against the academic autocracy and conservative thinking at the Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm. Anders Zorn started as a watercolour artist but eventually became proficient in oils as well.
His Midsummer Dance, painted in 1897, has acquired classic status among Swedish paintings from the turn of the century. It shows an exterior, a courtyard, bounded by shimmering grey timber walls in the background and couples in folk costume whirling round in the dance on the lawn in the foreground. At a distance we see the bright red end wall of a house, a maypole and a patch of the summer night sky. The golden shades of the sunrise are reflected in the house windows, and the atmosphere there is full of the Nordic magic associated with nights of early summer.
Midsummer Dance by Anders Zorn