Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Anders Zorn: The Art of the Power Portrait

Anders Zorn ~ Portrait of Adolphus Busch - 1897 oil on canvas, 51 x 37 1/2 in.
Painted during Zorn’s second trip to the United States from 1896 to 1897.

Anders Zorn, power portraitist.

I planned this post ~

What does a traveling and much in demand portraitist do when commissioned to paint a busy executive who has neither the time nor the inclination to pose…

Anders Zorn, portrait of Adolphus Busch portrait with photo overlay.

~ but upon further study I realized that the photo was an old school photoshop. Busch's head is a photograph from life, which has been grafted onto the body in a photo of the Zorn painting. This monster was then photographed and printed!

Anders Zorn ~ Adolphus Busch portrait - photoshop/painting

old school photoshop portrait of Adolphus Busch
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Details of the Zorn painting showcase how thinly he painted but for the highlights.


  1. Love to see how thinly he painted (as you said, except for the highlights). I see the fall of a myth in that! (the myth of tons of paint).

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Just enough paint to achieve the desired effect …also, his direct approach doesn't build up the surface with layers. I think most people would be shocked by the amount of turpentine he painted with …for a large painting to have a "bravura finish," the paint needs to be fluid so the brush can move speedily in long strokes across the canvas. It's much like his watercolor/gouache technique.

  2. Very nice , Anders Zorn , Etienne Dinet & Singer Sargent ...they are incredible artists.