In the hammock signed, inscribed and dated 'L. Zorn Richmond-82 d20/6' (lower left) watercolour 56 x 38 cm. (22 x 15 in.)
Provenance: Walter G Danielson, Consul General of Sweden in Los Angeles, from 1937-1976; thence by descent.
We are extremely grateful to Birgitta Sandström, who has confirmed the authenticity of the present lot, and has prepared the following essay.
At the end of May 1882, a young Swedish painter arrived in Richmond, south west London, to spend the summer together with a friend who he knew from his years in Stockholm. The painter was the 22-year-old Anders Zorn, who came from Spain where he had spent the winter in Seville and Cadíz. Here he had enjoyed his first international success with a small exhibition, the first of very many abroad.
Born out of wedlock in the little town of Mora in the middle of Sweden, Zorn had few prospects, but he had enough artistic talent to gain admission to the Royal Academy of Art in Stockholm in 1875. At this time he became fascinated by watercolour, a technique which was not held in very high regard. Having studied an exhibition of works by the watercolour painter Egron Lundgren (who also worked for Queen Victoria), he concentrated in developing his natural ability to paint in this medium. In 1880, he exhibited In Mourning at The Academy, which depicted a young woman whose face is vaguely seen under a black veil. The picture caused a sensation. Shortly after this Zorn left to begin his studies abroad.
When he arrived in Richmond in the beginning of the summer 1882, Zorn and his friend Christian Bolinder rented a cottage at 2 Vineyard Villas. He soon found an attractive model, Mary Smith, who was to become his favourite for the next three years. Indeed, he liked the situation so much that he decided to stay in England and in the autumn he rented a studio at 42 Brook Street in London's fashionable West End. With the exception of four months spent in Spain in 1884, and some summer months in Sweden, he made London his headquarters until June 1885 when he decided to return home and to marry his fiancée Emma Lamm who he had known since 1881.
Zorns sojourn in Richmond was evidently both joyous and prolific. He described the stay in his autobiographical notes: "I arrived in the month of May 1882 and was welcomed by my friend Bolinder in Richmond. We had a household with a little angry old lady in a small house with a garden patch and rented boats at the Thames nearby. B. left for the city every morning and came back in the afternoon when we usually went out to row on the river. I painted motifs from the river, landscapes from the park and some girl in the hammock in our garden, and also myself in a fez and a background of vine leaves. I remember that once, young Swedes visited us and were served supper. However, they were unusually merry and too agreeable for the neighbourhood, so our old woman became unpleasant and we moved to a nice lady further down the street".
In the hammock depicts a dark-haired girl laying in a hammock in a garden. She is dressed in a white frock with frills on the skirt, resting so that her ankles and red stockings are shown. Her pose is radiating as from afternoon laziness, and she looks towards a mans straw hat thrown on the grass which indicates a connection with a person of the other sex. The hammock is hung between two trees which grow parallel to the garden path which ends with a rather low wall. On the other side of the wall is a meadow. There are some flowerbeds beside the path and the nature has the rich green values of Midsummer.
The composition is interesting as it indicates a certain knowledge of the Impressionists way of composing which partly was inspired by Japanese woodcuts. The strong diagonal over the whole paper, as well as the fact that the second tree on which the hammock is fastened is not visible, are examples of this influence.
The watercolour technique is strong, yet not as fulfilled as it became a few years later. But it is the hand of a master that can render the air and the atmosphere of the garden. As watercolour has to be painted quickly, it is interesting to note that there are no visible corrections or changes in the painting. Zorn was able to conceive the picture in his head, keeping it there until he quickly put the subject on to the paper. There are often in Zorns works from this period red colour dots which strengthen the colouring scheme, as well as keeping the total colour tonality together.
The inspiration of the motif of the girl in a hammock is prevalent during the early 1880s. Garden scenes with people moving freely were very popular in European art, even though there are few direct comparisons to In the Hammock in Nordic art. However, in 1879, James Tissot, the contemporary French-English painter of fashionable everyday life in London, used the subject when he painted A quiet afternoon. This depicts a garden with a girl reading in a hammock, and an elderly gentleman sleeping nearby. The following year Tissot produced an etching of a similar subject. However, whether Zorn had seen the oil or possibly the etching is unknown, but the subjects are so close that it is worth mentioning.
There is a very big difference between Tissots picture and that of Zorns. The atmosphere in Tissot's painting is that of a family situation without any flippant undertones at all, with the girl concentrating on her book. In Zorns painting, there is a totally different atmosphere. Zorns girl is looking longingly at the mans hat on the grass. The reckless look of girls is an important detail that became something of a trademark for the young Zorn.
In the spring of 1882, he exhibited at the Salon the watercolour The Cousins, showing two Spanish girls sitting close to each other behind a big fan and looking at the spectator in a rather flirtatious way. This half-hidden erotic aspect is also evident in In the hammock, because of the play between the sexes.
From the garden in Richmond, Zorn painted another interior (also mentioned in his Autobiographical notes) as Self portrait in a fez, which also is called In the Landladys garden (private collection). This painting is also signed, inscribed and dated 'Richmond 1882', but does not bear an exact date, and is probably painted a little later. It is however of exactly the same dimensions and shows a man (Zorn) sitting in a sun chair just outside the house. The view looks towards the wall and to the left is the flowerbed and the second of the two trees which is not visible in In the hammock. The atmosphere of laziness in this picture is as strong as in In the hammock. The composition is also resting on a diagonal but more conventional with the garden path as a main line. The man is looking to the right and when we see the two pictures together there is a very evident connection.
Mary Smith was Zorns favourite model during the years he stayed in England. She can be seen for example, in On the Thames, where she is sitting in a typical Thames rowing boat handling the steer ropes and steadily looking straight in to the eyes of the rowing man (the spectator!). In this painting, Mary is wearing the same white dress as In the Hammock and other works from these years. She later married a butcher and the couple moved to Istanbul where Emma and Anders Zorn, travelling on their honeymoon, met them in the beginning of 1886.