By 1914, when Schiele executed Sitzender Frauenakt, he had largely abandoned the silhouetted, two-dimensional style derived from his Jugendstil background and had begun to depict the human body in a fleshier, more volumetric manner. In many of his drawings from this period, such as the present one, he applied thin films of green or red gouache to augment the principal contours of the figure, lending a subliminal roundness and structural solidity to the limbs and torso. He retained his interest in unusual poses and oblique views, but now presented them in an approximation of realistic space. In Sitzender Frauenakt, for instance, the radical foreshortening of the model's legs and right arm imparts an unmistakeable sense of depth to the space in which the figure is situated. Coupled with the averted gaze and the economy of outline, this foreshortening also has a distancing effect while at the same time, the novel vantage point suggests a degree of intimacy, as though the nude were being seen by a lover bending to look over her shoulder.
Discussing Schiele's works on paper from 1914, Jane Kallir has written:
"Schiele's drawing style suggests an underlying structure of muscle and bone, and his coloring technique reflects these concerns. The practice of edging flesh in contrasting tones of red, green, and ochre continues, and these modeled areas are characteristically set off against flat, brightly colored patches of drapery, clothing, or hair. Solid, flat accent colors--for stockings, hair, or other features--still occur, but they are subordinated to an overriding three-dimensionality. Quick bursts of red serve to highlight protuberances or cavities of special importance, such as ears, eyes, mouths, armpits, shoulders, hands, and breasts. Schiele's growing concern with plasticity eventually generates a more organic, fluid line. There are hints of almost conventional realism in the simplification of line and in the integration of contour and volume. As a result, skewed perspective--always an influence on the poses--now assumes a more disturbing character. The relative two-dimensionality of his preceding style aesthetically neutralized Schiele's affinity to spatial dislocation, but the increased volumetric density of his work from 1914 on seems to demand a concomitant realism. By refusing to bow to this demand, Schiele intentionally creates a spatial unease that heightens the work's totemic impact" (op. cit., p. 520).
When Sitzender Frauenakt was sold at auction in 1984, it was reproduced in the catalogue as a horizontal composition, although signed otherwise. Oriented in that way, the work appears to show the model lying on her back, with her torso propped up on her elbows and her legs elevated. In her authoritative catalogue raisonné of Schiele's work, however, Kallir argues for a vertical composition depicting a seated woman looking down at her lap, as illustrated here (ibid., p. 527).