In 1913, Egon Schiele displayed a particular interest in the depiction of the nude female torso, which forms the primary focus of Stehende Frau mit Schuen und Strümpfen. As with many of his drawings from this year, Schiele crops the customary indicators of human individuality such as hands, feet and head in order to draw attention to the physical centre of this statuesque model and to underscore the frank sexuality of her naked body. For Schiele, sexuality lay at the heart of all instinctual drives, providing the prime motivational energy of human life. With an intensity that bordered on the fanatical, he studied these impulses through an artistic exploration of the human form, exposing the latent erotic charge behind the veneer of strict conservatism in fin-de-siècle Vienna. Whilst Schiele was not alone in his visual isolation of female nudes -- following predecessors such as Edgar Degas, Auguste Rodin, and Gustav Klimt -- his predilection for sexually charged imagery had lead to serious repercussions in 1912, when he was indicted for the indecent depiction of under-aged models. Although the original charges were dropped, the trauma of his brief imprisonment forced him to acknowledge the sensibilities of society at large. As a consequence, Schiele almost entirely abandoned drawing children and his images of women for the most part became less intensely erotic, often displaying an aesthetic distance through increasingly simplified features and the truncation of his model's form, as in the present work.
A brief trip to Munich in August of 1912 also contributed to Schiele's new approach to the figure. His contribution to an exhibition of Der Blaue Reiter earlier that year, and this subsequent visit permitted him to study firsthand the work of fellow exhibitors such as Franz Marc, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, and Paul Klee. This encounter with German Expressionism encouraged Schiele to pursue increased experimentation with colour, a variety of unusual poses and inventive placement of the figure within the sheet. Stehende Frau mit Schuen und Strümpfen is notable for its use of electrifying ultramarine pigment that animates the figure and accentuates the textural variation between hair, clothing and delicately tinted flesh. By contrasting the soft, fluid contours of the model's pale body against the gesturally painted and richly coloured garment she is presumably removing, Schiele not only anchors the figure in the expanse of space that is otherwise devoid of environmental markers but also draws attention to her pelvic region, which he further emphasizes with a sharp blue chevron. In doing so, Schiele purposefully heightens the sexual significance of the image, thereby signalling his belief that all humans are at the mercy of their primal urges.