Egon SCHIELE (Tulln, 1890 - Vienna, 1918)


In a brief artistic career that lasted just twelve years before his death from influenza in October 1918, at the age of just twenty-eight, Egon Schiele produced a few hundred paintings and nearly three thousand drawings and watercolours. It was not until the last year or so of his life, however, that he began to achieve a modest amount of financial success. Following the death of Gustav Klimt in February 1918 and the critical success of his one-man exhibition at the Vienna Secession the following month, Schiele could be said to have become the leading avant-garde artist in Vienna in the final months of the First World War.

It was at this time that his drawings began to display a distinct change in his approach to the depiction of the figure, with a new emphasis on line over colour. As Jane Kallir has written, ‘During the last years of his life, the pace of Schiele’s artistic development slowed markedly. The stylistic shifts that occurred between 1917 and the artist’s death in October 1918 are almost imperceptible, and they evidence none of the volatility that characterizes his work through mid 1915…Soft pencil gives way to black crayon, which yields heavier, more even lines that are less prone to fluctuations in density and strength. The artist’s contours now hew exclusively to the requirements of representational accuracy, with little latitude for expressive deviation…Overall, Schiele’s palette is more subdued and naturalistic than ever before. He was less concerned with color than with volume and shape, and increasingly he was driven to explore his subjects through drawing alone.’