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Outdoors
  • Artist Anders Zorn (Swedish, 1860 - 1920)
  • TitleOutdoors
  • Dating 1888
  • Technique/MaterialOil on canvas
  • Dimensions133 x 197,5 cm
  • AcquisitionPurchase, 1891
  • CategoryOil painting
  • Inventory NumberGKM 0256
  • Display StatusOn display in Nordic Art 1880-1910 I (Room 20)
Description
Signatures etc.
Exhibition History
Bibliography
In the summer of 1888, Anders Zorn turned his full attention to oil painting of the genre he himself christened »naked in the open«. In the Impressionist painting Outdoors, he portrayed a Swedish summer idyll. Two naked young women huddling on a sloping rock, as if they had been about to go into the water but hesitated because of the temperature. The sloping rock gives the otherwise peaceful summer scene a sense of movement and drama. Higher up in the picture is a similarly rounded rock sloping in a different direction, with the result that the two rocks form a zigzag through the picture. A rowing boat is moored in the shallow water. Closer to the viewer, in the lower left-hand corner, sits a girl, partly hidden by tall reeds, and about to take off her stockings. The top edge lies just below the horizon line, but the bright sky beyond the image is reflected in the water.
Zorn had been influenced by the physician Carl Curman’s ideas about the beneficial effects of sunlight on the body and soul. Outdoors radiates a sense of healthy nudity and freedom from convention. The subject was far more controversial in 1888 than it is today. The women were presented without the mythological setting that had long justified nude figures in Salon painting. Moreover, sea bathing was forbidden in the Stockholm archipelago at the time. The rowing boat shows that the women had fled to the bathing place for a little recreation.
Despite working in oils, Zorn has managed to retain something of the watercolour’s ease, with quick brushstrokes that accurately capture the natural forms, the light, and the women’s posture. In Outdoors, Zorn was heavily influenced by French plein-air painting, although in best academic manner he did careful studies before he embarked on the final work. Zorn was awarded a third-class medal at the Salon in 1889, and Le Figaro’s critic Albert Wolff praised the painting. A later copy from 1890 is in the Ateneum Art Museum in Helsinki.

Kristoffer Arvidsson from The Collection Gothenburg Museum of Art, Gothenburg 2014