EGON SCHIELE (1890-1918)
EGON SCHIELE (1890-1918)
EGON SCHIELE (1890-1918)
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EGON SCHIELE (1890-1918)
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This lot has been imported from outside of the UK … Read more PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED PRIVATE COLLECTION
EGON SCHIELE (1890-1918)

Liegender Akt

EGON SCHIELE (1890-1918)
Liegender Akt
pencil on paper
16 1⁄8 x 8 1⁄4 in. (41 x 21 cm.)
Drawn in 1911
Galerie Würthle, Vienna.
Private collection, by whom acquired from the above in the 1920s, and thence by descent; Christie's, London, 5 February 2008, lot 554.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
J. Kallir, Egon Schiele: The Complete Works, London, 1990, no. 882, p. 448 (illustrated).
Special notice
This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice. Christie’s has a direct financial interest in this lot. Christie’s has guaranteed to the seller that whatever the outcome of the auction, the seller will receive a minimum sale price for the work. This is known as a minimum price guarantee.

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Lot Essay

Drawn in 1911, Liegender Akt (Reclining Nude) belongs to an exhilarating, exploratory period in Egon Schiele’s œuvre. Depicted using a near-single line, this elegant study of a young woman reclining with seductive eyes and soft, parted lips, celebrates the artist’s unrivalled ability as a draughtsman.

After leaving the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts in 1909, Schiele quickly gained the freedom to explore his unique voice. In opening himself to a newfound range of artistic influences, he challenged convention and, eschewing the conservative codes of 19th Century society, embarked on a period of dynamic growth. Much like Modigliani and Picasso, he developed great confidence in his ability as an artist, reaching early maturity. Thus, in 1910, at barely 20 years of age, Schiele began an earnest exploration of the human figure, and, in particular, of the nude figure, as a central motif— an exploration which would come to define his career until his premature death of Spanish flu in 1918.

In taking young women as his preferred subject — and in particular, the poorer women of Vienna who were pleased to pose for smaller sums — every sinuous curve, every rise and fall of the flesh, became a vehicle through which Schiele could explore and refine the expressive quality of his line. Indeed, it is as a result of this relentless pursuit of the essential purity of form that the artist delighted in the subtle contrast between soft, graceful breasts and sharp, jagged elbows and shoulders, so carefully depicted in the present lot.

Although Liegender Akt certainly evidences Schiele's ability to capture the expressive power of a single line, as Jane Kallir notes, it is in these 1911 works that for the first time the artist's “lines become especially intense around areas of key emotional significance” (J. Kallir, Egon Schiele, The Complete Works, New York, 1998, p. 433). As a result, special attention here is given to the eyes and mouth, which are softly shaded to enhance their visual and emotive impact.

As Kallir explains, in Schiele’s work of this period “distinct faces are recognisable but few are identifiable” (Ibid, p. 433), and although the identity of the present sitter remains unknown, her arresting features are captured across a series of studies including the reclining figure in Zwei liegende Akte (Kallir no. 884) in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Similar features are also visible in Nacktes Mädchen mit ausgestreckten Armen (Kallir no. 778) in the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza.

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