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

Liegender Mädchenakt

Egon Schiele (1890-1918)
Liegender Mädchenakt
signed and dated 'SCHIELE EGON 09.' (upper left)
watercolour, India ink and pencil on paper
11 7/8 x 12 ¼ in. (30.1 x 31.1 cm.)
Executed in 1909
Karl Hayd, Austria, a gift from the artist.
Hedwig Hayd, Austria, by descent from the above, in 1945, until at least 1967.
Galerie Richard Ruberl, Vienna, by August 1987.
Private collection, Switzerland, by whom probably acquired from the above, in July 1988.
E. Hertlein, 'Frühe Zeichnungen von Egon Schiele', in Alte und moderne Kunst, no. XII, vol. 95, Vienna, November - December 1967, p. 38 (illustrated fig. 16, p. 39).
J. Kallir, Egon Schiele: The Complete Works, London, 1998, no. 300, p. 382 (illustrated).
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Keith Gill
Keith Gill

Lot Essay

‘By 1909, two-dimensional formal considerations had all but obliterated the tactile presence of the brushstroke. Schiele’s drawing style underwent a related change, abandoning interior modelling for a distillation of basic contour’ - Jane Kallir

Rendered with a delicacy and expression of handling that is the defining feature of Egon Schiele’s art, Liegender Mädchenakt was executed in 1909, a breakthrough year in the short yet groundbreaking life of the artist. The previous year, Schiele had met the great leader of Viennese art, Gustav Klimt properly for the first time and his work hit the young artist with the force of a revelation. Over the course of 1909, Schiele assimilated Klimt’s Jugendstil style, forging his own distinctive idiom, which was characterised by simplified, flowing lines illuminated by flattened planes of colour, of which the present work is a quintessential example. Liegender Mädchenakt was given as a gift to Schiele’s friend and fellow artist, Karl Hayd, and remained in his family’s collection for over half a century.
With her reclining yet compact pose depicted on an almost square format, Liegender Mädchenakt closely relates to Klimt’s Danaë of 1907-08 (Novotny & Dobai, no. 151; Private collection). This painting presents a flame-haired Danaë being impregnated by Zeus, who, as the Greek myth goes, had appeared in the form of a shower of golden coins in order to breach the bronze tower in which her father had locked her away from potential suitors. Schiele also painted an oil of this subject (Kallir, no. 148) as well as a study on paper (Kallir, no. 298; Graphische Sammlung Albertina, Vienna). In the present work, Schiele has adopted the same elegant, hermetic outline to describe the undulating forms of the female figure, using a flash of black to portray his sitter’s raven-coloured hair, which falls in lyrical tendrils down her body. Unlike Klimt’s mythologically-inspired work however, Schiele has made his Danaë resolutely modern, depicting her stockings with a flash of vivid green.

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