Like Renoir, Anders Zorn seemed to be intoxicated by female flesh — the sensual surface of his canvases seems to be a sexual response to the female nude, whose aura radiates outward to affect her surroundings, which take on her sensual properties, as in the painting above. The whole world seems made of flesh. Renoir said, “I paint with my penis,” and the same can almost be said of Zorn.
Renoir’s world sometimes seems about to melt in the sexual delirium but Zorn kept a stricter control over his draftsmanship and his sense of modeling, of space — he was more academic in that sense. The tension between the sensual surface and the precise rendering of forms makes Zorn’s work more interesting to me than the late Renoir nudes, which always seem to threaten to dissolve into goo (see above.) They become more and more about Renoir’s mood and process, less and less about real women.