Born in Mora, Sweden, February 18th 1860, and studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Art in Stockholm. He was greatly influenced by Egron Lundgren. He visited Devon 1882-4 staying especially at Clovelly. Zorn married in 1885 to Emma Lamm and they spent the winter of 1887-8 in St Ives, in the same period as WHISTLER and the Norwegian artists Finn SCHJERFBECK and Helene SCHJERFBECK visited and worked, before settling in Paris.
He exhibited A Fisherman, St Ives 1888 at the Paris Salon and received a First Class Medal and that triumph was followed by a Gold Medal there in 1899 for his Fish Sale, St Ives. Stanhope FORBES in his lecture (pp43-50 repr in Hardie 2009) 'A Newlyn Retrospect' comments: 'I remember finding in a house at St Ives where I was calling, four painters of four different nationalities: in that town, Zorn, the well-know Swedish artist, painted his first oil picture, which now hangs in the Luxembourg, and for it his palette was set by an equally celebrated American painter who at that time resided there.' Tovey includes two coloured plates (No 26 & 27) of the medal-winners now owned by the Luxembourg Museum, Paris, which over time has resulted in many artist visitors to St Ives.
His reputation was of the highest order, not only as the best-known Swedish painter, but also for his portraits, which include three US presidents. His wife Emma Zorn died on 04 January 1942. To honor the memory of her husband, she had worked to create a museum, which opened in 1939.