Egon Schiele (1890-1918)
Property from the Collection of Max Palevsky
Egon Schiele (1890-1918)

Liegender Akt mit schwarzen Strümpfen

Egon Schiele (1890-1918)
Liegender Akt mit schwarzen Strümpfen
signed and dated 'SCHIELE 1911' (lower left)
watercolor, gouache and pencil on paper
22 3/8 x 15¼ in. (56.5 x 38.1 cm.)
Executed in 1911
Gertrude and Walter Sorell, New York (circa 1970).
Serge Sabarsky, New York (November 1983); sale, Christie's, New York, 6 November 2008, lot 46.
Acquired at the above sale by the late owner.
W. Sorell, The Duality of Vision: Genius and Versatility in the Arts, New York, 1970 (illustrated, pl. XI).
S. Sabarsky, Egon Schiele: Disegni Erotici, Milan, 1981 (illustrated, pl. 9).
S. Sabarsky, Egon Schiele, New York, 1984, p. 221, no. 99 (illustrated in color, pl. 99).
J. Kallir, Egon Schiele: The Complete Works, New York, 1998, p. 448, no. 883 (illustrated).
Venice, Giardini di Castello, XL. Biennale di Venezia: Visual Arts 82, 1982, no. 12.
Vienna, Akademie der bildenden Künste; Milan, Accademia di Bella Arti di Brera; Palermo, Villa Zito; Tel Aviv Museum of Art; Hamburg, Hamburger Kunsthalle; Salzburg, Rupertinum; Graz, Schloss Plankenwirth; Innsubruck, Tiroler Landesmuseum Ferdinandeum; Bottrop, Josef Albers Museum; Nuremberg, Nuremberger Kunsthalle; Capri, Certosa di San Giacomo; Schloss, Halbturn and Kunsthalle Emden, Egon Schiele, vom Schüler zum Meister: Zeichnungen und Aquarelle 1906-1918, January-March 1984, no. 56 (illustrated).
Rome, Pinacoteca Capitolina and Venice, Museo d'Arte Moderna Ca Pesaro, Egon Schiele, June-November 1984, p. 194, no. 99 (illustrated in color).
Charleroi, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Egon Schiele, September-December 1987, no. 52 (illustrated).

Lot Essay

Liegender Akt mit schwarzen Strümpfen belongs to the group of drawings that marks Schiele's transition from more demure nude images of his sister Gerti from 1910 to bolder, sexually erotic depictions that highlight the primal expressiveness of his personal idiom. The sitter, a slim brunette, was one of a series of anonymous models that Schiele employed at this time. She sinks into the vacuum of the page as if into bedsheets, suggesting her intimacy with the artist. Her direct gaze and open presentation of her naked body are a stark contrast to Gerti's turned head and closed eyes, or the sensually coiled, slumbering Danae by his mentor, Gustav Klimt (Galerie Würthle, Vienna). Commenting on this confrontation, Jane Kallir notes: "They stare at the viewer much as they must have stared at Schiele, and their self-protective reserve or dreamy puzzlement become adjuncts to their sexuality. Once again, Schiele's own responses--his fascination and confusion--have been intertwined with those of his model. However the model has become a more integral part of the exploratory process rather than just a faceless projection of the artist's fantasies" (in Egon Schiele: Life and Work, New York, 2000, p. 60).

Schiele suggestively adapts the sitter's body to highlight her sexual desirability and availability, tinting her mouth and genitalia for visual emphasis and adding a dark gouache "halo" at her midsection that, like a corset, simultaneously exaggerates the narrowness of her waist and the curves of her hips and breasts. Her ambiguously truncated extremities contribute a slightly unreal quality to her sensuous repose, and transform her into a sexual object. 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). Not surprisingly, drawings such as the present work were collected as erotica, although this displeased Schiele. However, the hallmark of his drawings from this period is a blatant engagement with taboo subjects such as masturbation and other sexual acts. These unabashedly erotic works and the stream of young women and girls who posed from them eventually led to his arrest and imprisonment in 1912 for alleged immoral acts.

The model's provocative display in the present work suggests that Schiele invested his drawings with the informal poses and blatant sexual display found in popular pornography. Whereas many of his models from 1910 are completely naked, Schiele furnishes this female figure with black stockings, transforming her from a timeless nude into a fetishized modern woman. Addressing this topic, Klaus Albrecht Schröder notes: "... the role of the so-called low arts of caricature, and especially of erotic and pornographic photography, should not be overlooked in the genesis of Schiele's nudes. With a few exceptions based on erotic paintings... the audacious poses of Schiele's models have their precedents in cheap, mass-produced erotic photographs. This genre, initially legitimized under the heading of 'study' material for artists, was classified as indecent from the 1870s onward because it had blatantly departed from the canon of academically sanctioned poses" (in Egon Schiele: Eros and Passion, New York, 2006, p. 112).

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