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

Liegender Akt mit gehobenem Bein

Egon Schiele (1890-1918)
Liegender Akt mit gehobenem Bein
black Conté crayon on paper
11 1/4 x 17 3/4 in. (28.6 x 45 cm.)
Drawn in 1918
Alan Pryce-Jones, New York.
Galerie St. Etienne, New York, by whom acquired from the above in 1968.
Galleria Odyssia, New York, by whom acquired from the above in 1968, until at least 1972.
Anonymous sale, Sotheby's, New York, 15 May 1985, lot 169.
Acquired at the above sale; sale, Christie's, New York, 14 May 2015, lot 43c.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
J. Kallir, Egon Schiele: The Complete Works, New York, 1998, no. 2249, p. 612 (illustrated).
New York, Galleria Odyssia, Drawings and Watercolors, Summer 1969, n.p. (illustrated; with incorrect medium).
Des Moines, Des Moines Art Center, Egon Schiele and the Human Form: Drawings and Watercolors, September - October 1971, no. 62, n.p. (illustrated n.p.); this exhibition later travelled to Columbus, Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts, November - December 1971; and Chicago, Art Institute of Chicago, January - February 1972.
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Keith Gill
Keith Gill

Lot Essay

After years of vying for recognition and struggling to sell his art, Schiele’s situation belatedly improved during 1918, as the First World War ground to its conclusion. Despite the harsh reality of news from the front and shortages at home, and perhaps as a kind of escapism to mitigate these doleful events of the day, the Viennese public appeared to have acquired a growing and more diverse taste for art, which, as a result of wartime inflation, had become a desirable commodity as well. ‘People are unbelievably interested in new art,’ Schiele wrote to his friend Anton Peschka. ‘Exhibitions – be they of conventional or new art – have never before been this crowded’ (Schiele, quoted in J. Kallir, Egon Schiele: Life and Work, New York, 2003, p. 217). 

Schiele's drawings of female figures – both nude and semi-clothed, in more or less overtly erotic poses – now openly attracted a wide audience, partly the result of a more tolerant moral climate that had developed during the course of the war, but also because of the artist's more naturalistic treatment of his subjects. The nervously subjective, angst-driven line of Schiele's early style had given way to more rounded, assured and fluid contours that lend a volumetric aspect to the figure; a pictorial trend that was also observable in the contemporary figurative work of Picasso in Paris and would soon spread throughout Europe in the post-war revival of classicism. With just the slightest hints of shading, Schiele has skillfully conveyed the woman’s body with a single, commanding outline; a reflection of his prodigious talent as a draughtsman.

Shamelessly immodest in her nudity, the young reclining model in the present drawing nonchalantly displays her sex, which Schiele appears to have deliberately framed within the triangular configuration of her legs for maximum effect, a pose reminiscent of Courbet’s notorious L'Origine du monde, 1866 (Musée d’Orsay, Paris). The girl seems self-absorbed and oblivious to the artist as he observes her. Her languidly natural, spontaneous pose is in fact complex, consisting of a series of opposing yet harmonious lines. The horizontal placement of her arm across her chest works in dialogue with the vertical emphasis of her raised leg, while the form of her right arm that rests beneath her head corresponds to her bent lower leg.

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