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

Mann auf dem Bauch liegend

Egon Schiele (1890-1918)
Mann auf dem Bauch liegend
signed with the artist's initial 'S' (lower right)
watercolour and charcoal on paper
18 7/8 x 12¼ in. (48 x 31 cm.)
Executed in 1910
Marlborough Fine Art, London.
Simon Sainsbury, London.
James Kirkman, London.
Anonymous sale, Sotheby's, London, 26 March 1980, lot 197.
Private collection, by whom acquired at the above sale; sale, Sotheby's, New York, 3 November 2008, lot 22.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
J. Kallir, Egon Schiele, The Complete Works, London, 1998, no. 594, p. 415 (illustrated).
London, Marlborough Fine Art, Egon Schiele, Drawings and Watercolours, 1909-1918, February - March 1969, no. 6 (illustrated p. 20).
London, Fischer Fine Art, Egon Schiele, Oils, Watercolours, Drawings and Graphic Work, November - December 1972, no. 32, p. 25.
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Cornelia Svedman
Cornelia Svedman

Lot Essay

Mann auf dem Bauch liegend exemplifies the speed and perfection of execution which Egon Schiele had achieved in 1910. Described with a simple line, a male figure is lying face down, his legs wide open, forming an inverted V on the blank page. His left hand awkwardly tucked under his thigh, the prone position of the man appears to have sexual overtones. Schiele reinforced the feeling of his model's body lying abandoned on the floor by violently cropping out the feet and pushing the body towards the upper part of the page. Leaving the rest untouched, he added colour to three details: the head, the hand and the sock. The blank page around the figure reinvigorates the expressive role of the line, strengthening the tension of this body caught up between inertia and contraction.

Only twenty at the time he created Mann auf dem bauch liegend, in 1910 Schiele tended to portray both female and male bodies with the same fascination with sexuality. The sitter may be Schiele's friend, the artist Max Oppenheimer, whom the artist portrayed in a closely related drawing (Kallir 593) and in another distinct pair of works (Kallir 587 & 588). Schiele sought Oppenheimer out in 1909, spending on this first occasion 'two days and three nights' together. As Oppenheimer later recalled, they contemplated 'all the problems of art'; they painted for months 'side by side, modelled for each other and shared paint and privation' (M. Oppenheimer, quoted in A. Klee, 'Attitude and Gesture as Reflection of the Conception of Genders', pp. 31-45, in A. Husslein-Arco & J. Kallir, (eds.), Egon Schiele: Self-Portraits and Portraits, exh. cat., Vienna, 2011, p. 31). Oppenheimer's homosexuality may have prompted Schiele to explore male sexuality with renewed curiosity, challenging the limits of traditional gender roles in turn of the century Austria.

1910 was a crucial year for Schiele. In 1909, he had defiantly abandoned his academic training, leading the avant-garde group Neukunstgruppe, which had its first exhibition at the Pisko Gallery. That same year, Schiele was invited to exhibit at the Kunstschau by Gustav Klimt, attracting the attention of his first important patrons. Despite these early successes, in 1910, stimulated by Oppenheimer's art, Schiele renounced the Secession styling of his early work, instead developing his own innovative graphic language. Renouncing the decorative backgrounds he had borrowed from Klimt, Schiele started exploring the blank page as a way to increase the tension between the figures and their framing. At the same time, with incredible mastery, Schiele's line now combined realistic accuracy with expressive stylization. Exemplifying these stylistic inventions, Mann auf dem bauch liegend ranks among those works that, in 1910, established Schiele as a mature, independent Expressionist artist.

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