The previous record was held by August Strindberg’s “Underlandet” (“Wonderland”), which went for 22 million kronor, a record that has stood since the late 1980s. The original estimate was that the painting would go for 8 million to 10 million kronor.
The painting from 1886 is a watercolour in which the setting is Dalarö, southeast of Stockholm, and the painter’s wife Emma is the main character. The Zorns had just returned from their honeymoon at the time. Emma Zorn’s family had long owned a summer home in Dalarö.
“It is extremely cleverly painted,” newspaper Dagens Nyheter’s art critic Birgitta Rubin explained. “Zorn really excels here with his watercolor techniques. He captures the movement and light in the water in an exceptional way. It is a very beautiful atmosphere in the picture – it shows that he is in love with the woman he paints.”
The auction attracted a large number of bidders, including a number of foreigners. The sale took place at Stockholm’s Auction House (Stockholms Auktionsverk), the world’s oldest, founded in 1674. In the end, a Swedish private collector bought the painting.
According to Rubin, Thursday’s Swedish record price is another sign that the art market is now once again heating up following the financial crisis.