The present drawing dates from 1914, which found Schiele in bleak financial straits--threatened with eviction, he was 2,500 kronen in debt, one year's income for an average middle class family--despite his growing reputation. In consequence, Schiele's patron Arthur Roessler suggested that he try printmaking in order to take advantage of the burgeoning print market in Germany.
Using tools and plates purchased for him by Roessler, Schiele commenced with six drypoints in February 1914 (Kallir, nos. G3-G8). He quickly and easily mastered this medium, but would lose interest by the end of the summer. These etchings and contemporaneous drawings display what Kallir has called "stitchlike cross-hatching," noting that "it is impossible to determine whether the technique simply carried over into the etching media or rather evolved from it" (op. cit., p. 520). Schiele's deployment of this "stitched" line added tension and emphasis to the delicate character of his drypoints and pencil drawings, and served to counter the artist's seemingly effortless and virtuosic draftsmanship, investing it with nervous and unsettled energy. He continued to use this technique until mid-1915, when he was drafted to serve in the Austrian army during the First World War.
The "stitched" line complemented the saw-tooth contours that Schiele had also introduced into his drawings, which were used mainly to depict the ruffled edges of his model's undergarments. Indeed, the emergence of these linear variants in Schiele's drawings coincided with the artist's increasing emphasis on partially clothed figures, in which he exploited the contrasts between covered and bared areas of the body. The model's provocative position here recalls the informal poses and blatant sexual display found in popular erotica. As in other late-1914 drawings, the present figure has not been identified: "button eyes and stylization of nose and eyebrows (sometimes foregoing eyes entirely) make it difficult to identify Schiele's models from midyear on" (ibid., p. 520).
The present drawing was formerly owned by abstract expressionist Sam Francis, whose sometime dealer Felix Landau has been widely credited with introducing Schiele to Los Angeles collectors.