By 1918 Egon Schiele had amassed both critical and commercial success. Gustav Klimt, who had dominated the avant-garde scene for two decades, died in February 1918 and Schiele was widely viewed as his mentor's successor. Schiele made major contributions to the 49th Vienna Secession that year and soon became inundated by requests for lucrative commissions. Another factor of his newfound success was linked to the finality of World War I, as people disheartened by the ravages of war turned toward art for enlightenment and escape.
Schiele's depictions of nudes now drew a wider and more responsive audience, partly the result of a more tolerant moral climate near the end of the war, but also because of the artist's more appealing naturalistic treatment of his subjects. Jane Kallir contends, 'Schiele's style itself was no longer as shocking as it had been several years earlier; the humanism of his portraits and the refined naturalism of his line were far more accessible than had been his jarring allegories and frenetic watercolors' (in Egon Schiele: Life and Work, New York, 2003, p. 218). The shocking eroticism and tormented detail of Schiele's early style had yielded to a more classical and volumetric treatment of the figure, while his usage of a velvety, lush charcoal imbued these works with seductive sensuality.
In the present work, Schiele retains the erotic positioning and unabashed sexual exposure common to his early works, but counters this implied exhibitionism with elegant, almost restrained, draftsmanship. This duality of overt eroticism and elegant depiction of the female form is perhaps Schiele's nod to his great teacher Klimt, whose success was founded in deftly combining fantasy, sexuality and sheer beauty.