Emma Zorn

Emma Zorn (née Lamm, 1860–1942) came from a well-to-do middle-class Stockholm family. Her father, Martin Lamm, was a wholesale textile merchant and her mother was Henriette (née Meyerson). They had three children: Herman, Anna and Emma. The family, which was of Jewish descent, had strong cultural interests and conducted an intensive social life. There were many artists in their circle of friends and it was also through art that Emma met Anders Zorn who was the same age. She happened to accompany her nephew Nils when he was to be painted by Zorn in winter 1881. It turned out to be love at first sight.

In summer 1885, when they had been secretly engaged for four years, Zorn managed to convince the Lamms that he was in a position to support Emma and himself from his work as an artist. On 2 July, they announced their engagement and 18 October they were married in a civil ceremony. Just before the marriage, Emma together with her mother had visited Mora and also her future husband’s family. In spite of all the differences, Emma became very fond of Zorn’s family. This positive meeting proved to have great significance for her. She was always to have very good relations with her in-laws and the people of Mora.

After a number of years with much travelling, including a honeymoon in Constantinople (Istanbul), the Zorns finally settled in Paris in 1889. Here they set up their own home for the first time. Emma had great organisational ability. So it was she who came to be responsible for her husband’s contacts with exhibitors, museums, publishers and transport undertakings.

In 1896, the Zorns returned to Sweden. Their permanent address became Zorn House in Mora where there was always much social hustle and bustle. Amongst the friends who enjoyed their hospitality were Erik Axel Karlfeldt, Prince Eugene, Albert Engström, Bruno Liljefors, as well as Carl and Karin Larsson. Now and again Emma would exclaim that it was nice that they had not had any guests “for three days”. The inhabitants of Mora were also included in the Zorns’ benevolence. Encouraged by her husband, Emma became involved in a series of different local activities such as the public library and the handicraft association. The Zorn Children’s Home was indebted to her for its existence and likewise also the Mora Adult Education Centre (folkhögskola) which came into being as a result of the active participation and financial support from her and her husband.

Up to the end of the 1890s, it would seem that the relationship between Emma and Anders was a happy one, but thereafter frictions began to occur. Their married life gradually became characterised by mutual dependence based on friendship rather than love. After her husband’s death, Emma’s life changed radically. It was now she who bore the responsibility for carrying forward the legacy of the great master. It was her initiative that led to the establishment of the Zorn Museum, opened in 1939, just three years before her death. For her time, Emma Zorn was a radical, outgoing and realistic woman. Many bore witness to her intelligence, quick repartee and resounding laughter.