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)

Knabenbildnis (Herbert Reiner) (recto); Zwei weibliche Akte mit Draperie (verso)

EGON SCHIELE (1890-1918)
Knabenbildnis (Herbert Reiner) (recto); Zwei weibliche Akte mit Draperie (verso)
gouache, watercolor and pencil on paper (recto); pencil on paper (verso)
17 7⁄8 x 12 ¾ in. (45.6 x 32.2 cm.)
Executed in 1910
Franz Friedrich "Fritz" Grünbaum, Vienna (by 1925, from whom spoliated after March 1938).
Gutekunst & Klipstein, Bern (1956).
Galerie St. Etienne, New York (acquired from the above, September 1956).
Robert J. and Carol Mayer, New York (acquired from the above, 1957).
John Herring, Inc., New York.
Serge Sabarsky Collection, New York (acquired from the above, February 1993).
Restituted to the heirs of Fritz Grünbaum (2023).
A. Comini, Egon Schiele's Portraits, Berkeley, 1974 (recto illustrated, pl. 57).
G. Malafarina, L'opera di Egon Schiele, Milan, 1982, no. 152a (recto illustrated).
J. Kallir, Egon Schiele: The Complete Works, Including a Biography and Catalogue Raisonné, New York, 1990, p. 399, no. 455 (recto illustrated, p. 400) and p. 382, no. 303 (verso illustrated).
Vienna, Kunsthandlung Würthle, Egon Schiele, December 1925-January 1926, no. 52.
Bern, Gutekunst & Klipstein, Egon Schiele: Bilder, Aquarelle, Zeichnungen, Graphik, September-October 1956, p. 17, no. 7 (recto illustrated; with incorrect dimensions).
New York, Galerie St. Etienne, Egon Schiele, Watercolors and Drawings, 1957, no. 2 (recto illustrated, p. 10).
Boston, Institute of Contemporary Art; New York, Galerie St. Etienne; Louisville, J.B Speed Memorial Museum; Pittsburgh, Carnegie Institute and Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Egon Schiele, October 1960-May 1961, no. 15 (recto illustrated; titled Rainer Boy).
New York, Galerie St. Etienne, Egon Schiele: Watercolors and Drawings from American Collections, March-April 1965, no. 12 (recto illustrated in color, pl. 4).
New York, Neue Galerie, Egon Schiele: The Ronald S. Lauder and Serge Sabarsky Foundation, October 2005-February 2006, p. 406, no. D52 (recto illustrated, p. 232).

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Lot Essay

In December of 1909, Schiele and his artist friends of the Neukunstgruppe mounted a joint exhibition of works at the Kunstsalon Pisko, shortly after his exhibition debut in Vienna a few months prior. This marks the start of the young artist’s professional career, when the Austrian writer and art critic, Arthur Roessler, takes Schiele under his wing and begins to support him as a collector and business manager. Through Roessler, Schiele meets some of his most important early patrons, such as Carl Reninghaus and Oskar Reichel, and receives numerous commissions. The artist would go on to paint a portrait of both Roessler (Kallir, no. P163) in October of 1910, and his wife Ida (Kallir, no. P223) two years later.
The portrait of young Herbert Reiner, son of Dr. Max Reiner, is one of the many commissions Schiele received through the help of his friend Roessler. Schiele first mentions this particular commission in a letter dated 5 November 1910 to Roessler, where he refers to the work as “Reinerbubenbild” and later again as “der kl. Reiner H.” The present work is a preparatory study for the final oil version (Kallir, no. P167), which now hangs at the Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, Vienna. There also exists a simpler line drawing, now at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (Kallir, no. 456). All three compositions focus primarily on the sitter’s eyes and hands—indeed, in each version, Herbert’s garments are executed in a most cursory manner (a simple line for the pencil sketch, a few strokes of blue and purple for the present composition, and thickly impastoed brushwork for the oil), allowing the heavily detailed eyes and hands to remain the focus of each composition.
As Renée Price noted, “Schiele’s remarkable economy of gesture is apparent in this portrait drawing, as in the final painted portrait. The boy’s head (with his protruding ears) and hands are the central subjects of both the watercolor and the painting” (op. cit., exh. cat. 2005, p. 406). In the present work, the eyes of young Herbert are mesmerizing—they appear to shimmer, painted with just a few dabs of watercolor, his long eyelashes drawn in thick pencil lines. While the face is only lightly colored with hints of pinks highlighting Herbert’s sweet and childish features, his hands are heavily painted, outlined with dark and expressive pencil marks. Herbert’s hands are highlighted further here by the few strokes delineating the garments—the light hues of the sitter’s skin tone contrast heavily with the densely colored shirt. Although painted in gouache and watercolor, Schiele’s use of gum Arabic allowed him to create rich brushwork with thinned out colors, resulting in a sweet but powerful portrait.

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