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

Berglandschaft (Tiroler Bauernhof)

Egon Schiele (1890-1918)
Berglandschaft (Tiroler Bauernhof)
signed and dated 'EGON SCHIELE 1917' (lower right)
gouache and black crayon on paper
11 1/8 x 17¾ in. (28.2 x 44.9 cm.)
Executed in 1917
Alex Turner.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in February 1991.
J. Kallir, Egon Schiele: The Complete Works, London, 1998, no. 2141 (illustrated p. 599).
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Lot Essay

Berglandschaft (Tiroler Bauernhof) is one of an important group of drawings of Tyrolean farmhouses that Schiele made at the height of the First World War while on a journey to the region in the summer of 1917. Often minimal but filled with exquisite detail, the landscapes and studies that Schiele made at this time mark yet another significant formal development in his work.

Despite his protestations to the contrary Schiele had an extremely easy time in the Austrian army during the First World War. He never saw the front and in January 1917, with the help of Karl Grünwald, he was, according to his wishes, reassigned to Vienna where he joined a division of the army known as the Imperial and Royal Military Supply. In June 1917 Schiele was sent with his new friend and patron Karl Grünwald to the Tyrol and South Tyrol regions on a tour to inspect the many depots and storehouses that the Imperial and Royal Military Supply had there.

As his letters home to his wife Edith attest, Schiele's tour of inspection to the Tyrol was something of a sojourn for the artist who found himself with very little army work to do and plenty of time for his own work. A letter written on June 10, possibly immediately before this work was made, is typical. 'Yesterday - Saturday morning - I was on the Isel Mountain, lunch at the station restaurant in Innsbruck and in the afternoon with Grünwald on Lake Lanser by Igels! In the evening to the Hungerburg station. Herr D. is bringing supplies in abundance - hopefully he's bringing rice - he's promised. Up until midday Saturday we still haven't done any work - Love, Egon. - Now I'm going out to draw farmhouses' (Letter to Edith, (misdated June 1) 1917, cited in C. M Nebehay, Egon Schiele: 1890-1918 Leben, Briefe, Gedichte, Vienna, 1979, no. 1212, p. 422).

One of the finest of Schiele's works from this period, Berglandschaft (Tiroler Bauernhof) appears almost like an oriental landscape in the way that Schiele has managed to convey a sense of the whole scene by only rendering the most essential details against an expanse of emptiness. Schiele had, of course, in his early paintings of nature - his anthropomorphic depictions of lone winding trees and plants against a void - been inspired by the compositional techniques of Japanese artists. The awareness that such works had taught him of the increased profundity of a mark left isolated against a blank page and his intuitive understanding of placement, is clearly in evidence here. Schiele rounds off the exquisite minimal design of this work by punctuating it with his cartouche signature in the empty space of the lower right of the watercolour.

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