Zorn’s Ski Races – The Beginnings of the Vasalopp?
February 12 – September 4, 2022
Anders Zorn was a definitively competitive man. As an artist, he was driven by a constant demand for perfection, suffered hard if he failed at something and felt immense satisfaction at a success. When it came to his own sporting prowess, skating was his passion but he also mastered horse riding, swimming, skiing and fencing.
Zorn’s desire to compete and interest in sports came to take many forms. He organized fiddle competitions, horse races, skiing events, financed sports facilities and provided support to young athletes in their various careers.
In 1907, Zorn arranged his first of three ski races. These early ski competitions took place in unprepared terrain and were intended for the peasant boys from the surrounding area. However, the fact that the participants were allowed to receive prize money from the artist, provoked the organized sports movement, which at this time began to spread strict amateur regulations. It developed into a battle over who had control over Swedish cross-country skiing.
“Already at the time of these races, Zorn toyed with the idea of a Vasa ski race, but it never panned out.” This statement was made by Strål Lars Eriksson, who had participated in the competitions. This is evidenced by one of Zorn’s paintings from 1907, A Refugee, which shows the fleeing Gustav Vasa on skis. The place the painting depicted was passed by the skiers in Zorn’s race the following year and later by all participants of the Vasaloppet. In other words, we see in Zorn’s painting for the first time, Gustav Vasa himself on the Vasaloppet’s trail!
This exhibition is about all of this, and a little more.