Anders Zorn - The Omnibus, 1892

Anders Zorn (Mora, 1860 - 1920, Mora)

The Omnibus, 1892

Oil on canvas, 126 x 88 cm (49 5/8 x 34 5/8 in.) canvas

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Object details

Accession number

P3e1

Provenance

Purchased by Isabella Stewart Gardner from Anders Zorn at the World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago, June 1893.

Marks

Signed and dated (lower right): Zorn–Paris 1892

Dimension Notes

Frame: 170.5 x 132 x 3.2 cm (67 1/8 x 51 15/16 x 1 1/4 in.)

Bibliography

Catalogue. Fenway Court. (Boston, 1903), p. 6.
Philip Hendy. Catalogue of Exhibited Paintings and Drawings (Boston, 1931), pp. 422-23.
Gilbert Wendel Longstreet and Morris Carter. General Catalogue (Boston, 1935), p. 37.
Morris Carter. "Mrs. Gardner & The Treasures of Fenway Court" in Alfred M. Frankfurter (ed.). The Gardner Collection (New York, 1946), p. 55-56.
Philip Hendy. European and American Paintings in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, 1974), p. 297.
Michelle Facos. Swedish Impressionism’s Boston Champion: Anders Zorn and Isabella Stewart Gardner. Exploring Treasures in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum VI. Exh. cat. (Boston: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 1993), pp. 21-25.
Oliver Tostmann et al. Anders Zorn: A European Artist Seduces America. Exh. cat. (Boston: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 2013), pp. 92-98, no. 5b.


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Commentary

Why was Mrs. Gardner so drawn to this work when she saw it in Chicago? It is a thoroughly modern painting: the subject is contemporary urban life — people sitting on a Paris trolley — and the style is Impressionist, although the Impressionists never really painted the dreary aspects of public transportation. Zorn depicts the isolation and sadness that comes with industrial progress, even as people are more crowded together.

It has been reported that Mrs. Gardner rode the streetcars of Boston, and thus could have identified with the well-dressed women riders. And, if a bit of speculation is allowed, the woman in the foreground, apprehensive yet eager, leaning and looking forward, mirrors the aspect of Mrs. Gardner at this moment in her life – about to embark on a serious career of collecting.

Source: Richard Lingner, "Omnibus," in Eye of the Beholder, edited by Alan Chong et al. (Boston: ISGM and Beacon Press, 2003): 213.

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