Anders Zorn - Isabella Stewart Gardner in Venice, 1894

Anders Zorn (Mora, 1860 - 1920, Mora)

Isabella Stewart Gardner in Venice, 1894

Oil on canvas , 91 x 66 cm (35 13/16 x 26 in.)


This lively portrait of Isabella Gardner was painted by one of her many artist friends, Anders Zorn. It shows her at the Palazzo Barbaro in Venice, where the Zorns and the Gardners spent time together in the fall of 1894. According to Jack Gardner’s diary, on the evening of October 20 his wife went out on the balcony to see a display of fireworks. Coming back into the room filled with guests, she threw open the glass doors and said, “Come out—all of you. This is too beautiful to miss.”  The picture is all about light—the artificial light inside the room and the fireworks outside. Isabella Gardner herself, wearing her trademark long string of pearls, seems to glow. Gardner conveniently installed a portrait of her husband Jack nearby, making it easy to draw comparisons (style, personality, etc.) between the two.