Zorn's American Subjects...
1881-1891, 1893, 1894 -1895, 1896-1897, 1899, 1900, 1901, 1903-1904, 1905-1910, 1911-1917
1881 - 1891
This is the first annotated list of Zorn’s American subjects. Dates, media, dimensions, locations of works, and accession numbers are provided, if known. Brief biographical information is also provided. Zorn’s works are signed, unless otherwise indicated. Etchings are catalogued by Asplund (A) numbers. Karl Asplund (1890-1978), working closely with Zorn, wrote a comprehensive catalogue of Zorn’s etchings, published in Swedish and English editions in 1920. There are some artist proofs that Zorn did not sign in pencil, but generally he signed his etchings on the plate and in pencil, lower right. Billy Mason (A.159) and Self-Portrait (A.180) were printed in signed and unsigned editions.


Fanny Nelson, 1881, watercolor, 25.2 x 17.5 cm., Zorn Museum watercolor collection(ZA) no. 33. The portrait was painted in Paris on Sept. 10. Fanny Nelson was a young African-American woman who met Zorn at the Odéon Theater during the artist’s first visit to Paris.

Clarence King, 1883, watercolor, 84 x 45 cm., possibly in three versions, with at least one known to be in a private collection. One version was purchased by King, and a second version was purchased by John Hay (1858-1905), according to letters from King and Hay to Zorn in the Zorn Museum Archives. In one of the portraits, Zorn portrayed King in a velvet suit, while another portrait portrayed him in a black suit, according to a letter King wrote to Zorn. The portraits were painted in London. One version of the King portrait was sold in the U.K. in 1992. Clarence King (1841-1901) was a geologist who at the age of twenty-five was put in charge of the Geological Exploration of the 40th Parallel, from the Sierra Nevada to the Rocky Mountains. He was a member of the circle of Henry Adams (1838-1918) and John Hay known as the “Five of Hearts,” in Washington, D.C. Zorn wrote in his biographical notes that Clarence King funneled a number of portrait commissions to him in London.

Mrs. John Hay, 1883, watercolor, 75 x 55 cm., private collection. Clara Louise Stone Hay (1849-1914) was from a prominent Cleveland family and was married to journalist and diplomat John Hay. She, along with Clover Adams (1843-1885), wife of Henry Adams, were members of the “Five of Hearts.” The couples lived next to each other on Lafayette Square in a building designed by architect Henry Hobson Richardson (1838-1886). The portrait was painted in London.
Gerda Boëthius, in her groundbreaking 1949 biography, Zorn: Tecknaren, Målaren, Etsaren, Skulptören (Zorn: Drawer, Painter, Etcher, Sculptor), notes in a chronological catalogue of Zorn’s works that the artist made a watercolor portrait of John Hay in London in 1882, 75 x 55 cm. Zorn, at the time, was planning an around-the-world trip, with America on the itinerary, but with Japan as his main goal. Hay, who was based in Paris on diplomatic duties in the early 1880s, wrote at least two reference letters for Zorn to U.S. consuls in the East (letters in the Zorn Museum Archives). The trip was called-off when Zorn’s fiancée Emma Lamm (1860-1942), and her family pressured Zorn to remain in Europe.

Charles Fairchild, 1883, watercolor, 40 x 51 cm. The portrait, painted in London, was arranged by Clarence King, according to an undated letter King wrote to Zorn, Zorn Museum Archives. Charles Fairchild (1813-1910) was an American banker.
According to Gerda Boëthius, the other commissions Clarence King sent to Zorn were for Mrs. Moorwood, Mr. Jules Beerbohm-Tree, a Miss Beerbohm-Tree, and a “German-American,” all painted in 1883. Herbert Beerbohm-Tree (1853-1917), the son of Julius Beerbohm, and his half-brother, Max, a caricaturist, were active in London at this time. Sir Herbert Beerbohm-Tree was a London actor and manager.

Clarence Barker, 1885, watercolor, 35 x 46 cm., private collection. A collector, now deceased, wrote the authors that he had a “duplicate original” of the Barker painting. A self-portrait by Zorn that was exhibited at the American Art Association, Anderson Galleries, New York (1931), from the Robert Scoville collection, was dedicated to Clarence Barker. Barker’s portrait was painted in London. Clarence Barker (d. 1896) was a grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt (1724-1877) and brother of Mrs. Walter Bacon, also a Zorn subject. He was an accomplished pianist who studied composition with Joachim Raff (1822-1882), a composer who wrote in the style of Berlioz and Liszt. Zorn depicted Barker reclining on a divan as he looks at a photograph of his fiancée. His devoted dog, who gazes admiringly at his master, is by his side. Zorn wrote that the title of the painting could well be Rivals.

Miss Marion Thayer, 1887, watercolor, 31 x 23 cm., private collection. The portrait is signed by Zorn “Lond. Dec. ‘87.”

Martin J. Wade, 1890, etching, 32 x 23 cm., A. 36. The etching was commissioned by Sir Ernest Cassel (1852-1921) in London. Martin Wade (1861-1931) was an attorney, judge, member of Congress, and professor of law in Iowa. According to Boëthius, there is a preparatory sketch for the etching in the Zorn Museum Collection.

Mrs. Walter Bacon, 1891, oil on canvas, 71 x 59 cm., private collection. The portrait was painted in London. Virginia Purdy Barker Bacon (d. 1919) was a sister of Clarence Barker and granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt. Barker commissioned the portrait. She was married to businessman Walter Bacon. John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) painted Mrs. Bacon wearing a Spanish costume in 1896. That painting in is the Biltmore Estate collection, Asheville, North Carolina.

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