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

Sitzende Frau

EGON SCHIELE (1890-1918)
Sitzende Frau
gouache and watercolor over pencil on paper
22 x 14 ½ in. (55.5 x 37 cm.)
Executed in 1910
Franz Friedrich "Fritz" Grünbaum, Vienna (from whom spoliated after March 1938).
Gutekunst & Klipstein, Bern (1956).
Serge Sabarsky Collection, New York.
Restituted to the heirs of Fritz Grünbaum (2023).
J. Kallir, Egon Schiele: The Complete Works, Including a Biography and Catalogue Raisonné, New York, 1990, pp. 405-406, no. 507 (illustrated, p. 405).
Bern, Gutekunst & Klipstein, Egon Schiele: Bilder, Aquarelle, Zeichnungen, Graphik, September-October 1956, p. 19, no. 12 (illustrated; with incorrect cataloguing).
Munich, Haus der Kunst, Egon Schiele, February-May 1975, p. 41, no. 152 (illustrated; with incorrect cataloguing).
Rome, Pinacoteca Capitolina, Egon Schiele, 1984, p. 220, no. 57 (illustrated in color).
Vienna, Akademie der bildenden Künste, Egon Schiele: vom Schüler zum Meister, 1984, no. 29 (illustrated in color).Charleroi, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Egon Schiele, September-December 1987, p. 91, no. 42 (illustrated).

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Lot Essay

Executed in 1910, Sitzende Frau was painted during a period of radical stylistic experimentation in Schiele’s oeuvre, as he boldly stepped out of the shadow of his mentor Gustav Klimt and began to develop a powerfully expressive pictorial language of his own. Schiele himself described this metamorphosis in a letter dated 1910: "I went by way of Klimt until March. Today, I believe, I am his very opposite" (quoted in R. Steiner, Egon Schiele: The Midnight Soul of the Artist, Cologne, 2004, p. 30). Indeed, dropping out of the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts in 1909 granted Schiele new found personal independence and access to new artistic influences that set in motion rapid stylistic changes, propelling his career as an artist. A further shift occurred in the artist’s palette in the second half of 1910, when it changed from bright acidic colors to a combination of dusky, autumnal shades—mauves, blacks, browns and deeper shades of blue—as seen in the present work.
In Sitzende Frau, we see Schiele beginning to give his brushstrokes and their contours a greater role in the construction of his figure; he embraces the fluidity of his pigments and the bold undulating movements of his brush to bring his subject to life. Filling the framework of his lines with thin washes of color, Schiele uses his brushstrokes to create mass, texture and a sense of animation, achieving subtle color transitions with which a less proficient artist would struggle. This is particularly noticeable here in Schiele’s rendering of the folds, seams and patterns of his model’s dress, as well as in his depiction of her hands and hair.
The sitter is captured from a slightly high viewpoint, not unusual for Schiele who often drew his models from above, working from steep ladders he would place at their feet. Although her pose suggests that she is seated, the artist deliberately avoids any reference to her surroundings in the work, creating the impression that she is floating in mid-air. Indeed, as with the majority of Schiele’s figure studies, the physicality of his model is contrasted against the 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 woman before him. Our eye is drawn instead to the lines of her figure and the layers of material which encase it.
The present work captures the daring nature of Schiele’s ground-breaking studies of the female figure, an artistic obsession that occupied him throughout his entire short-lived artistic career. Unflinchingly returning the artist’s gaze, the model adopts an unusual pose, placing her hands resolutely on her upper thighs to create a geometric, almost diamond-like shape with her hands and arms. Although the model remains fully clothed, her stare and pose, which are at once tense and soft, carry an intimate charge, brought to life by the dynamism of her dress. Her pale complexion and colorless eyes contrast with her red lips and colorful garments, while her deep orbital sockets, bony hands and cheek bones speak to Schiele’s rejection of the traditional idealization of female beauty and to his desire to challenge the conservative veneer of contemporary Viennese society.

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