EGON SCHIELE (1890-1918)
EGON SCHIELE (1890-1918)
EGON SCHIELE (1890-1918)
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EGON SCHIELE (1890-1918)
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EGON SCHIELE (1890-1918)

Hockender weiblicher Torso (recto); Weiblicher Halbakt (verso)

EGON SCHIELE (1890-1918)
Hockender weiblicher Torso (recto); Weiblicher Halbakt (verso)
signed and dated 'EGON SCHIELE 1912' (lower right, recto) and inscribed 'TORSO' (upper right, recto)
watercolor and pencil on paper (recto); pencil on paper (verso)
12 x 18 ½ in. (30.4 x 46.8 cm.)
Executed in 1912
Alfred Spitzer, Vienna (by 1923).
Hannah Spitzer, Vienna and New York (by descent from the above).
Galerie St. Etienne, New York (acquired from the above, 1966).
Georg Waechter Memorial Foundation, Geneva (acquired from the above, 14 January 1970).
By descent from the above to the present owner.
M.V. Manera, Le Arti a Vienna, exh. cat., Palazzo Grassi, Vienna, 1984, p. 141 (recto illustrated, fig. 1).
J. Kallir, Egon Schiele: The Complete Works, New York, 1998, p. 464, no. 1012 (verso; illustrated) and p. 477, no. 1119 (recto; illustrated, p. 476).
Vienna, Hagenbund and Neue Galerie, Gedächtnisausstellung Egon Schiele, October-November 1928.
Boston, Institute of Contemporary Art and Oberlin, Allen Memorial Art Museum, Klimt, Schiele, Kokoschka, July-September 1957, no. 33.
New York, Galerie St. Etienne, Egon Schiele, Watercolors and Drawings, October-December 1968, p. 40, no. 13 (recto illustrated, p. 41).
Munich, Haus der Kunst, Egon Schiele, February-May 1975, p. 42, no. 161 (recto illustrated).
Martigny, Fondation Pierre Gianadda, Schiele, February-May 1995, no. 80 (recto illustrated in color).
Sale room notice
Please note the updated cataloguing for this work, which can be accessed online:
signed and dated 'EGON SCHIELE 1912' (lower right, recto) and inscribed 'TORSO' (upper right, recto)

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Emily Kaplan
Emily Kaplan Senior Vice President, Senior Specialist, Co-Head of 20th Century Evening Sale

Lot Essay

With its unusual viewpoint and suggestively intimate pose, Hockender weiblicher Torso illustrates the daring nature of Egon Schiele’s ground-breaking studies of the female figure, an artistic obsession which occupied him throughout his short-lived career. Created in 1912, a year of great personal turmoil and upheaval for Schiele, the composition focuses on the sinuous form of an anonymous female model as she crouches before the artist, her skirt raised high above her knees to reveal the point at which her silky black stockings give way to the soft, creamy flesh of her thighs. Delineating her contours in a delicate, graceful line, Schiele adopts a startling, bold cropping effect in which the woman’s head disappears off the page, concentrating our gaze on the generous volumes of her body, the soft folds of fabric in her dress, and the dynamic energy that underpins her movements as she poses for the artist. Imbued with a subtle eroticism and sensuality, the scene reveals the shifts which were occurring in Schiele’s approach to the figure during this period, as he began to temper the heady sexuality and scandalous nature of his images in the wake of his imprisonment and trial for indecency during the opening months of the year.
Over the course of 1911, Egon Schiele’s art had undergone a dramatic transformation, as he began to shift away from the bold, jagged, angular lines that had previously dominated his oeuvre to explore a softer, more delicate approach to form. A key element in this development lay in the artist’s experiments with watercolor, a medium he played with repeatedly during this period as he sought to understand and master its capricious nature. Executed in delicately thin layers of watercolor pigment, Hockender weiblicher Torso reveals Schiele’s growing confidence with the medium, as he began to allow his paints a greater role in the construction of the figure. Retaining a sense of the fluidity and the bold movements of the artist’s paintbrush as it danced across the page, Schiele allows the washes of color to bleed over the contours of his pencil drawing underneath, lending the outline of his sitter’s body a more rounded, organic, undulating character that highlights the sheer liquidity of the paint. As with the majority of his figure studies of this period, the almost sculptural physicality of the model’s body is contrasted against the white void of the blank page surrounding her, the details of the setting subsumed by the artist’s need to capture the vital living nature of the human form before him.
Schiele’s style and the focus of his subject matter was, in part, inspired by the art of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, whose work he had first encountered in 1909. While his masterly use of pencil, watercolor and gouache finds parallels in the French artist’s work, it was Toulouse-Lautrec’s unerring studies of the modern female body and intriguing explorations of sexuality which had the most lasting effect on the young Schiele. As Otto Benesch acknowledged, Toulouse-Lautrec had “made an enormous impression on Schiele through his mercilessly bitter representation, through his investigation of the female psyche” (quoted in F. Whitford, Egon Schiele, London, 1981, p. 60). In Hockender weiblicher Torso, Schiele focuses his eye on the scintillating combination of high heels and stockings, a frequent obsession of his which made its way into numerous paintings and drawings of this period. Unlike other examples of his more provocative and explicit works depicting partially undressed women, it is the tiniest hint of skin between her stockings and petticoats, the suggestion of what is to come if the sitter’s slow striptease continues, that lends Hockender weiblicher Torso its captivating power.
A second drawing, Weiblicher Halbakt, is visible on the verso of the sheet, offering a more explicit view of a young woman as she reclines before the artist, her arms thrown above her head to reveal the entire length of her nude torso. Recording her delicate features and the soft curves of her lithe body with just a handful of abbreviated, flowing lines, Schiele imbues her form with an inherent grace, even though the unusual angle and foreshortening lends a certain awkwardness to her pose. Together, these two works illustrate the innovative direction of Schiele’s probing vision, as he explored the ways in which implicit and explicit nudity could generate different tenors of erotic tension in his compositions.

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