Egon Schiele (1890-1918)
Egon Schiele (1890-1918)

Stehender Mönch von rechts hinten

Egon Schiele (1890-1918)
Stehender Mönch von rechts hinten
signed and dated 'Egon Schiele 1914' (lower center)
pencil on paper
18 7/8 x 12½ in. (47.9 x 31.7 cm.)
Drawn in 1914
Dr. Walter Hugelshofer, Zurich; sale, Gutekunst & Klipstein, Bern, 6 June 1957, lot 654.
B.F. Dolbin, New York.
Frederick Gerstel, California.
La Boetie Gallery, New York (by 1971).
Galerie Hassfurther, Vienna.
Private collection, Vienna.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
J. Kallir, Egon Schiele: The Complete Works, New York, 1998, p. 539, no. 1642 (illustrated).
Baden-Baden, Staatliche Kunsthalle, Gustav Klimt und Egon Schiele, January-February 1958, no. 41.
New York, La Boetie Gallery, Egon Schiele and His Circle, May-June 1971, no. 21 (illustrated).

Lot Essay

A fluid and complete graphic portrait of a young man, Stehender Mönch von rechts hinten is an outstanding example of the complete mastery of line that Schiele had attained in his work by 1914. More subtle, fluid and calm than the neurotic, earthy and expressive line that distinguishes the works of his early maturity in 1910 and 1911, in this work Schiele has delineated the form of his subject with a swift and fluid assuredness that is both commanding and incisive. The characteristic focus on the raised hands and intertwined fingers in the upper half of the sheet is balanced by the intricate band of pattern to the robe at the lower center suggestive of a Secessionist fabric design.

The tall, lean appearance of the subject of Stehender Mönch von rechts hinten recalls the elegant figure of Schiele's friend Otto Benesch who, as recorded in Jane Kallir's catalogue raisonné, remembered modelling for a closely related work (Kallir, no. 1639). Despite the relatively modest means of his government salary as a civil servant with responsibility for the railways, Otto Benesch's father, Heinrich, was among Schiele's earliest patrons, meeting him for the first time in 1908 and buying his work from 1910. However, this relationship entered troubled times in 1913 when Benesch felt that Schiele was giving preferential treatment to wealthier patrons. This criticism may have been what prompted Schiele to undertake a major double portrait of Heinrich and Otto Benesch (Kallir, no. 250; Neue Galerie der Stadt, Linz), among the most intense of his portraits of contemporaries and, it is often said, in its stern interaction of the two figures, indicative of the domineering character of the father versus the dreamy nature of his son. In the following year Otto wrote the foreword to Schiele's show at the Guido Arnot gallery (which also was the cause of some tension with the artist), before going on to enjoy a distinguished career as an art historian, rising to the post of director of the Albertina in 1947 and publishing a book titled Mein Weg mit Egon Schiele.

"'Schiele drew quickly,' Otto Benesch recalled, 'the pencil glided, as though propelled by the hand of a ghost, as in a game, over the white surface of the paper... An eraser was not used--if the model changed position, the new lines would be placed next to the old ones with the same unerring certainty. One sheet was constantly replaced by another, as the production hurried onward" (quoted in J. Kallir, Egon Schiele: Life and Work, New York, 2003, p. 88, no. 12).

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