Egon Schiele (1890-1918)


Egon Schiele (1890-1918)
signed and dated 'EGON SCHIELE 1918' (lower left)
black crayon on paper
11 5/8 x 18 in. (29.6 x 45.8 cm.)
Drawn in 1918
Acquired by the present owner, circa November 1983.
J. Kallir, Egon Schiele: The Complete Works, New York, 1990, p. 621, no. 2333 (illustrated).
J. Kallir, Egon Schiele: The Complete Works, New York, 1998, p. 621, no. 2333 (illustrated).
Vienna, Akademie der bildenden Künste; Milan, Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera; Palermo, Villa Zito; Tel Aviv Museum; Hamburger Kunsthalle; Salzburg, Rupertinum; Graz, Schloss Plankenwirth; Innsbruck, Tiroler Landesmuseum Ferdinandeum; Bottrop, Josef Albers Museum; Nürnberger Kunsthalle; Capri, Certosa di San Giacomo; Schloss Halbturn and Emden, Kunsthalle, Egon Schiele, vom Schüler zum Meister: Zeichnungen und Aquarelle 1906-1918, January 1984-May 1988, p. 141, no. 105 (illustrated in color).
Rome, Pinacoteca Capitolina; Venice, Galleria Internazionale d'arte Moderna, Ca' Pesaro and Martigny, Fondation Pierre Gianadda, Egon Schiele, June 1984-January 1987, p. 223, no. 166 (illustrated in color).
Charleroi, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Egon Schiele, September-December 1987, no. 112 (illustrated).
Städtische Galerie Rosenheim; Florence, Palazzo Strozzi; 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; Linz, Oberösterreichisches Landesmuseum; Städtische Galerie Bietigheim-Bissingen; Berlin, Käthe-Kollwitz-Museum; Passau, Museum Moderner Kunst; Ulmer Museum; Prague, Palais Wallenstein and Paris, Musée-Galerie de la Seita, Egon Schiele: 100 Zeichnungen und Aquarelle, May 1988-February 1993, no. 96.
Roslyn, Nassau County Museum of Art, Egon Schiele: 1890-1918 A Centennial Retrospective, January-April 1990, no. 96.
Aix-en-Provence, Musée Granet; Albi, Musée Toulouse-Lautrec; Lisbon, Culturgest; Aschaffenburg, Galerie Jesuitenkirche and Blumeninsel Mainau, Schloss Mainau, Egon Schiele: cent oeuvres sur papier, June 1993-November 1994, no. 92.
Martigny, Fondation Pierre Gianadda, Egon Schiele, February-May 1995, p. 198, no. 132 (illustrated in color).
New York, The Serge Sabarsky Foundation, Egon Schiele: Drawings and Watercolors, June 1996.
New York, Neue Galerie, Egon Schiele: The Ronald S. Lauder and Serge Sabarsky Collections, October 2005-February 2006, p. 426, no. D166 (illustrated in color, p. 322).

Lot Essay

After years of struggling for recognition and sales, Schiele suddenly achieved well-deserved success as the First World War ground to its conclusion in 1918. In response to the harsh reality of news from the front and shortages at home, the Viennese appeared to have acquired a growing and more diverse taste for art, which, as a result of wartime inflation, had also suddenly become a desirable commodity. The artist wrote to his friend Anton Peschka, "People are unbelievably interested in new art. Exhibitions--be they of conventional or new art--have never before been this crowded" (quoted in J. Kallir, Egon Schiele: Life and Work, New York, 2003, p. 217). Gustav Klimt, who had dominated the avant-garde for two decades, died in February 1918, and Schiele was now widely viewed as his successor. Schiele's contributions to the 49th Secession exhibition, which opened in March, practically amounted to a retrospective, taking up the central room of the hall, and all available works were sold within a few days of the opening. He soon became inundated by requests for portrait commissions, and offers from numerous new collectors to buy his drawings.

Schiele's drawings of female figures--both nude and semi-clothed, in overtly or ambiguously erotic poses--now openly attracted a wide audience, partly the result of a more tolerant moral climate near the end of the war, but also because of the artist's more naturalistic treatment of his subjects. The nervously subjective line of Schiele's early style had yielded to a simpler, more classical and volumetric rendering of the figure, a pictorial trend that was also observable in the contemporary figurative work of Picasso in Paris and would soon spread throughout Europe as a post-war revival of neo-classicism.

With her stockings pulled down, undergarments drawn up to display shapely bare and spread legs, and her chemise lifted to reveal her breasts, the comely young model in Liegende ("reclining woman") clearly signals her availability, but her matter-of-fact casualness partly mitigates the immodesty of her pose. She seems self-absorbed and oblivious to the artist as observer, and indeed this attitude was meant to entice the collector, who assumes a role as voyeur to the scene. The economy of Schiele's line sharpens these effects; his contours are assured, varied and unerringly interwoven throughout. In Liegende and other drawings of this model (see also Kallir, nos. 2331 and 2332), the artist plays sleight of hand with the lines themselves, leaving gaps in the contours which tease the eye, and create a rhythmical counterpoint between open and closed forms. Schiele has kept the description of form and detail within the figure to an absolute minimum, using hatching sparingly to render the shadows in the folds of a garment, the dimple on a knee and the girl's right nipple. The viewer's eye is immediately drawn to a small tuft of hair under her raised arm (as Picasso was also fond of depicting in his late drawings), which, in conjunction with the posture of her legs, takes on a suggestively intimate connotation.

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