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

Liegendes schlafendes Mädchen

Egon Schiele (1890-1918)
Liegendes schlafendes Mädchen
signed with initial 'S' (lower left)
watercolor, gouache and black Conté crayon on paper
12 3/8 x 17 5/8 in. (31.4 x 44.8 cm.)
Executed in 1910
Private collection, Salzburg; sale, Christie's, London, 1 July 1980, lot 151.
Private collection, Europe (acquired at the above sale).
Serge Sabarsky, New York, acquired circa November 1983.
J. Kallir, Egon Schiele: The Complete Works, New York, 1998, p. 407, no. 522 (illustrated).
Venice, Giardini di Castello, XL. Biennale di Venezia: Visual Arts
, Summer 1982, no. 7.
Vienna, Akademie der bildenden Künste and Milan, Accademia di Belle arti di Brera, Egon Schiele, vom Schüler zum Meister: Zeichnungen und Aquarelle 1906-1918, January-May 1984, no. 27 (illustrated).
Rome, Pinacoteca Capitolina, Campidoglio; Venice, Galleria Internazionale d'Arte Moderna, Ca' Pesaro and Martigny, Fondation Pierre Gianadda, Egon Schiele, June 1984-January 1987, p. 222, no. 64 (illustrated in color).
Palermo, Villa Zito; Tel Aviv Museum of Art; Hamburg, Hamburger Kunsthalle; Salzburg, Rupertinum; Graz, Schlob Plankenwarth; Innsbruck, Tiroler Landesmuseum Ferdinandeum; Bottrp, Josef Albers Museum; Nuremberg, Nüremberger Kunsthalle; Capri, Certosa di San Giacomo; Halbturn, Schlob Halbturn and Emden, Kunsthalle, Egon Schiele: vom Schüler zum Meister, March 1985-May 1988, no. 27.
Rosenheim, Städtische Galerie Rosenheim; Florence, Palazzo Strozzi; Herford, Herforder Kunstverein im Daniel-Pöppelmann-Haus; Leverkusen, Erholunghaus der Bayer A.G.; Frankfurt, Jahrhunderthalle Hoechst; Bari, Castello Svevo; Genoa, Museo Villa Croce and Ferrara, Padiglione d'Arte Contemporanea di Palazzo Massari, Egon Schiele: 100 Zeichnungen und Aquarelle, May 1988-October-1989, no. 16.
Cesky Krumlov, Mezinárodní kulturní centrum Egona Schieleho, Egon Schiele, November 1993-May 1996, pp. 94-95.
Reykjavik, National Gallery of Iceland, Egon Schiele Mezinárodní kulturní centrum Egona Schieleho, Cesky Krumlov, August-October 1997.
Frankfurt, Jahrhunderthalle Hoechst, Hommage à Serge Sabarsky: Klimt, Kokoschka, Schiele Acquarelle und Zeichnungen, October-November 1997, no. 61.
New York, Neue Galerie, Egon Schiele: The Ronald S. Lauder and Serge Sabarsky Collections, October 2005-February 2006, p. 401, no. D29 (illustrated in color, p. 213).

Lot Essay

In 1910, the year in which Schiele drew Liegendes schlafendes Mädchen, he developed a mature and personal style that reflected a growing sense of artistic independence. While he was enrolled in the Vienna Academy of Visual Arts, Schiele had sought inspiration in local masters such as Gustav Klimt, whom the young painter had met in 1907 and came to regard as a creative father figure. Klimt's sensual and highly ornamented paintings were a marked contrast to the Academy's classical program, and Schiele embraced their ambiguous figure-ground relationships and two-dimensional stylization of the picture plane. Schiele left the Academy in 1909, the same year in which he participated in the large international Kunstschau at the Secession. This exhibition exposed Schiele to other works by Viennese artists as well as international entries by Vincent van Gogh and Edward Munch; their explorations of expressionist subjectivity in painting provided Schiele with a more primal and emotive alternative to the elegance of the Jugendstil style.

Klimt had largely abjured negative space in his painting by filling his backgrounds with two-dimensional decorative ornamentation. Schiele now moved past his teacher and embraced the void, favoring empty and undefined backgrounds. As Jane Kallir has commented:

"What remained were the taut, spare lines that formed the boundary between object and background. Both in Schiele's drawings and in his paintings, line was the unifying force, the device that fixed the more or less realistically depicted subject and kept it from veering off into the abstract environs. From his years of academic training and Jugendstil posturing, the artist had concocted a unique combination of naturalistic rendering and expressive stylization. Increasingly, in his oils as well as his watercolors, forms were defined by the gyrations of the paint" (in Egon Schiele: Life and Work, New York, 2000, pp. 67-68).

The subject and composition of the present work capture a powerful sense of inwardness, which signified a defiant withdrawal from society within Austrian and German Expressionism. Sleeping figures were popular symbolist ciphers for interiority, and Schiele extends this idea into the portrayal of her body, which lacks fully articulated limbs. Her ambiguously truncated extremities and close proximity to the edges of the sheet contribute a slightly unreal quality to her self-absorbed, sensuous repose. This delicate balance of distortion and beauty in Schiele's work often surprised his contemporaries, such as the critic A.F. Seligman, who described his pictures as "hideous-fantastic caricatures," but also conceded that "in these grotesque portrayals there is nonetheless a sophisticated, playful virtuosity of line, a highly idiosyncratic taste for color, and a strong feeling for effect" (quoted in ibid, p. 144).

The high, slanted placement of the figure on the sheet also suggests that Schiele captured this image of the sleeping girl while kneeling or sitting beside her bed, which creates a visually intimate encounter with the model. Schiele shares his privileged vantage point with the viewer, in effect making him a voyeur to the scene. As Klaus Albrecht Schröder notes: "Schiele makes the process of observation his theme, by giving thematic status to the observer. In his contrived perspective, the directionality of the artist's gaze--and of the viewer's, however many decades later--is reestablished every time" (in Egon Schiele: Eros and Passion, New York, 2006, p. 114).

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