Egon Schiele - Buy or sell works

12 June 1890, Tulln an der Donau (Austria) - 31 October 1918, Vienna (Austria)

Egon Schiele is considered one of the most important and most radical draughtsmen of the twentieth century. Together with Gustav Klimt and Oskar Kokoschka, he had a decisive impact on the art of Viennese Modernism.

Egon Schiele was born in the town of Tulln on the River Danube on 12 June 1890. His father was the station inspector of the local railway station. The parents and their three children lived in a service flat that now accommodates a small museum. Schiele and his two sisters grew up in lower-middle-class surroundings. His father’s premature death - Egon Schiele was 14 years old at the time - left a deep mark on him. When he was an adolescent, his passion for drawing and artistic talent were fostered by both his secondary school teachers at Klosterneuburg and his mother. In 1906 Schiele was admitted to the Academy of Fine Arts. Aged 16, he was the youngest student. His teacher was Christian Griepenkerl, under whom Schiele’s drawing teacher, Ludwig Karl Strauch, had also studied.

In 1908 Schiele took part in a public exhibition in the Emperor’s Hall at Klosterneuburg Monastery, and in 1909 his works were presented in the “International Art Show”, which had been curated by Gustav Klimt, next to those by Henri Matisse, Paul Gauguin, and Oskar Kokoschka. Through this exhibition, Schiele also came into contact with Josef Hoffmann.

Together with such like-minded colleagues as Anton Peschka, Albert Paris von Gütersloh, and Anton Faistauer, Schiele left the Academy and founded the “Neukunstgruppe” (“New Art Group”), whose president he became. In the group’s manifesto he wrote: “The New Artist is and must by all means be himself, he must be a creator and create with immediacy, without referring to things past and to tradition” (Schröder, p. 17).

A close friendship with Max Oppenheimer developed, and together with his friends Anton Peschka and the pantomime Erwin Dominik Osen, with whom he shared an interest in the bodily expression of sick people, Schiele travelled to Krumau, the native town of his mother. Schiele, deprived of financial means due to a quarrel with his guardian, was able to make a name for himself with first publications about his work. In April 1911 his first major solo exhibition took place at the Miethke Gallery in Vienna, only a stone’s throw away from Dorotheum. That same year, Schiele met Wally Neuzil, a model posing for Klimt. She would become his partner in life and remain his most important model until 1915. The couple settled in Krumau, with the town and its houses being Schiele’s favourite motif at the time.
The gallery owner Hans Goltz made Schiele known in Munich. He joined the Sema group of artists, whose members included Paul Klee and Alfred Kubin. Exhibitions in Vienna, Munich, and Budapest followed. In a show organised by the Hagenbund, Schiele presented his large painting Hermits, which shows him together with Gustav Klimt.

Schiele moved to Neulengbach and in April was accused of abducting and abusing of a minor. The charges proved unfounded. Schiele, deeply upset about the insecure situation of his imprisonment, received a jail sentence for the “insufficient safekeeping of erotic nudes” that were accessible to adolescents. The authorities confiscated 125 drawings that were considered obscene. Schiele moved to Vienna and in the summer travelled to Trieste and Germany, were he familiarised himself with the Expressionists’ works.

The collectors Franz Hauer and August Lederer promoted Schiele, and many international exhibitions strengthened his success as an artist. Gustav Klimt, president of the Association of Austrian Artists, appointed Schiele a member of the organisation.

When World War I began in July 1914, Schiele was initially relieved from military service and was able to continue his work as an artist. He devoted himself to the techniques of woodcut, etching, and fine-art photography and experimented with photographic self-portraits. In June 1915 he married Edith Harm at the Protestant-Lutheran Church in Dorotheergasse, opposite Dorotheum. Only a few days later, Schiele was finally forced to report for active service in the army. He was first stationed in Prague and subsequently in Vienna as a soldier guarding prisoners of war. When he was not on duty he was able to work in his studio in Hietzing, and he also continued to take part in exhibitions. The “Aktion” magazine published an issue dedicated exclusively to Schiele. During his military service he made numerous drawings of officers and Soviet prisoners of war, with whom Schiele sympathised. He and Albert Paris Gütersloh were entrusted with the organisation of the 1917 War Exhibition in the Prater.

Together with Gustav Klimt, Josef Hoffmann, Arnold Schönberg, Anton Hanak, and Peter Altenberg, Schiele made plans to establish an exhibition hall similar to the Secession. However, the project failed due to a lack of funds.

On 6 February 1918, Gustav Klimt died. Schiele drew him on his deathbed and wrote an obituary for his mentor and friend that was published in the magazine “Der Anbruch”.

With an exhibition at the Vienna Secession in which the artist presented drawings and paintings in the main hall, Schiele had his big breakthrough and greatest financial success. The Modern Gallery, today’s Belvedere, bought the painting Edith Schiele, Seated, which was Schiele’s first and only work acquired by a museum during the artist’s lifetime. Schiele’s works were now held in high esteem and were much coveted by collectors. Schiele was able to rent another studio and intended to establish an art school. He made all kinds of plans: for the establishment of the “Sonderbund” association with headquarters in Vienna’s first district, for exhibitions, and for the decoration of a mausoleum with such themes as “religion, a concept of the world, the toils of life, death, resurrection, and eternal life”.

The outbreak of the Spanish flu in Vienna during the last days of the war put an end to all of these plans: Edith Schiele, six months pregnant, succumbed to the disease on 28 October, only 28 years old. Schiele drew his dying wife’s portrait. Only three days later, he was carried off by the same illness. His last words have been passed down by his sister-in-law: “The war is over - and I must go.”

During a career that lasted not even ten years, Schiele presented an extensive oeuvre of paintings and drawings. Schiele influenced Austrian Expressionism; with his portraits, landscapes, self-portraits, and, above all, with his famous female nudes he broke with traditions and conventions, venturing on a new path in terms of both content and form. He elevated erotic nude drawing to the status of an autonomous art. Schiele fascinates us with his radical choice of motifs and his refined play of lines, with his subtle foreshortenings and overlaps, and with his pictorial mises-en-scène, which sometimes extend beyond the confines of the drawing sheet.

His work continues to realise record prices in international auctions, examples of which also reappear in Dorotheum sales time and again, including such drawings as Reclining Female Figure and Figures Bending to the Right. Museums around the globe present Schiele’s works and appreciate his ingenuity. The largest holdings of works by Schiele are preserved in Viennese collections, such as the Albertina, the Leopold Museum, and the Belvedere.
In addition to his numerous self-portraits, Schiele is primarily known for his nudes, almost all of which show women and children. Yet his landscapes and townscapes are becoming increasingly popular as well.