Swedish painter Anders Zorn gained notoriety for his nudes. His works are currently worth millions. The film is set in the time when Zorn, already respected for his art, was commissioned to paint a portrait of the Swedish king. Though an excellent painter, Zorn's personal life is dreadful. A boozer and a womanizer who frequently cheats on his wife, Zorn constantly seeks approval for his art. When he travels to the U.S. for a tour he meets Emilie Bartlett the wife of sculptor Paul W. Bartlett with whom he begins a sporadic affair. After Paul commits suicide, Zorn and Emilie move to Sweden. Zorn disregards his wife's feelings and openly displays his affections for Emilie.