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

Weiblicher Torso

Egon Schiele (1890-1918)
Weiblicher Torso
signed and dated 'EGON SCHIELE 1913.' (lower right)
gouache, watercolor and pencil on paper
16½ x 11 in. (41.9 x 28 cm.)
Executed in 1913
Serge Sabarsky, New York (acquired circa December 1979).
S. Sabarsky, Egon Schiele: Disegni Erotici, Milan, 1981, pl. 24 (illustrated).
S. Sabarsky, Egon Schiele: Watercolors and Drawings, New York, 1985, p. 90, no. 24 (illustrated).
J. Kallir, Egon Schiele: The Complete Works, New York, 1998, p. 507, no. 1370 (illustrated).
(possibly) New York, Serge Sabarsky Gallery, Summer Show of Expressionists, July-September 1978, no. 13.
Vienna, Historisches Museum der Stadt Wien; Neue Galerie der Stadt Linz; Munich, Museum Villa Stuck and Hannover, Kestner-Gesellschaft, Egon Schiele: Zeichnungen und Aquarelle, September 1981-June 1982, no. 64 (illustrated).
Paris, Hôtel de Ville, Salle Saint-Jean; Kaiserslautern, Pfalzgalerie; Bolzano, Museo Civico and Turin, Palazzo Reale, Gustav Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka, Egon Schiele: Dessins et Aquarelles, June 1984-February 1985, no. 77 (illustrated).
New York, Serge Sabarsky Gallery, Egon Schiele (1890-1918): Drawings and Watercolors, Summer 1986, no. 13.
Charleroi, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Egon Schiele, September-December 1987, no. 78 (illustrated).
Rosenheim, Städische Galerie; Florence, Palazzo Strozzi; Herford, Herforder Kunstverein im Daniel-Pöppelmann-Haus; Leverkusen, Erholungshaus der Bayer A.G.; Frankfurt, Jahrhunderthalle Hoechst; Bari, Castello Svevo; Genoa, Museo Villa Croce; Ferrara, Padiglione d'Arte Contemporanea di Palazzo Massari; New York, Nassau County Museum of Art; Linz, Oberösterreiches Landesmuseum; Milan, Palazzo della Permanente; Städtische Galerie Bietigheim-Bissingen; Berlin, Käthe-Kollwitz Museum; Passau, Museum moderner Kunst; Ilm, Ulmer Museum; Prague, Palais Wallenstein; Paris, Musée-Galerie de la Seita and Vienna, BAWAG Fondation, Egon Schiele: 100 Zeichnungen und Aquarelle, May 1988-May 1993, no. 54.
Aix-en-Provence, Musée Granet; Albi, Musée Toulouse-Lautrec; Lisbon, Culturgest; Zurich, Galerie Hauser & Wirth; Aschaffenburg, Stadt Aschaffenburg/Galerie Jesuitenkirche and Blumeninsel Mainau, Schloss Mainau, Egon Schiele: Cent oeuvres sur papier, June 1993-November 1994, no. 55.
Martigny, Fondation Pierre Gianadda, Schiele, February-May 1995, no. 88 (illustrated in color, p. 154).
Bad Frankenhausen, Panorama Museum; Klagenfurt, Städtische Galerie Klagenfurt; Kracow, International Cultural Center and Ljubljana, Fine Art Gallery Cankarjev Dom, Egon Schiele, November 1996-June 1997, no. 58.
Frankfurt, Jarhunderthalle Hoechst, Hommage à Serge Sabarsky: Klimt, Kokoschka, Schiele Aquarelle und Zeichnungen, October-November 1997, no. 73.
New York, Neue Galerie, Egon Schiele: The Ronald S. Lauder and Serge Sabarsky Collections, October 2005-February 2006, p. 415, no. D108 (illustrated in color, p. 274).

Lot Essay

Weiblicher Torso displays the elegantly curved and fluid lines that characterize Schiele's drawings from 1913. Having arrived at his mature style in 1910, the artist spent two years depicting gaunt, angular nudes, many of which were children. However, Schiele's predilection for these subjects brought him trouble in the spring of 1912, when he was incarcerated on allegations involving the indecent depiction of child models. Although the original charges were dropped, Schiele stopped using child models and focused mainly on erotic drawings of women. Addressing this transition, Jane Kallir has written: "It was not so much that the artist intentionally toned down his subject matter, as that he, perhaps subconsciously, introduced an element of aesthetic distancing that placed more emphasis on unusual compositional angles and poses than on emotional impact" (in op. cit, p. 151).

A brief trip to Munich that he took in August of 1912 also contributed to his new approach to the figure. Schiele had contributed to an exhibition of Der Blaue Reiter earlier that year, and this subsequent visit permitted him to study firsthand the work of fellow exhibitors such as Franz Marc, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, and Paul Klee. This encounter with German expressionism encouraged Schiele to pursue increased experimentation with the human form. His drawings of 1913 display a variety of unusual poses and inventive placement of the figure within the sheet. Kallir states, "This year [1913] produces one of the most profound changes of the artist's career: the switch from two-dimensional to three-dimensional orientation...Schiele's drawing style becomes more volumetric over the course of 1913." (ibid., p. 490).

The present drawing is notable for its dramatic cropping. During this period, Schiele often ignored or otherwise deemphasized the faces of his models, but the present nude's head is cut off entirely and only her lithe torso remains visible. His excision of other customary markers of human individuality such as her hands and feet serves to underscore the frank sexuality of the naked model. Of course, Schiele was not alone in his visual isolation of a female nude for erotic effect, and followed predecessors such as Edgar Degas, Auguste Rodin, and Gustav Klimt. Schiele's cropping of the female body to focus attention on her genitalia is particularly reminiscent of Gustave Courbet's L'Origine du Monde (fig. 1; Musée d'Orsay, Paris).

Another notable change from Schiele's earlier nudes is his use of clothing to create an erotically charged contrast between her covered and bared flesh. The bright red border along the bottom of this robe directs the viewer's eyes to the model's sex. Commenting Schiele's artistic relationship to his erotic female figures, Klaus Albrecht Schröder has written: "Of course, Schiele [has] the model's body at [his] entire disposal. Sleeping or moving, suffering or rejoicing, alluring or alarming, ecstatic, whole or cropped, the body relies on the artist to present it and dress it..." (in Egon Schiele: Eros and Passion, New York, 1999, p. 110).

(fig. 1) Gustave Courbet, L'Origine du Monde, 1866. Musée d'Orsay, Paris. BARCODE 25013009

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