EGON SCHIELE (Austrian 1890 - 1918)

Portrait of a Child (Anton Peschka, Jr.)

Black crayon.
The upper left corner of the sheet previously torn and reattached.
Signed and dated EGON / SCHIELE / 1918 at the lower right.
381 x 283 mm. (15 x 11 1/8 in.)

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Drawn in the last months of Schiele’s brief career, the present sheet is a portrait of the artist’s young nephew, Anton Peschka, Jr. The son of his younger sister Gertrude (Gerti) Schiele and Anton Peschka, a painter and close friend of the artist, the young Anton, known as ‘Toni’, was born on December 27th, 1914. Within a few months Schiele had begun to make drawings of the baby, and used him as a model for a painting of A Mother with Two Children, painted between 1915 and 1917 and today in the collection of the Österreichische Galerie in Vienna. Schiele continued to make drawings of his nephew in 1916, continuing the series of gouache and watercolour studies begun the previous year. As the boy grew older, Schiele began to develop ideas for a painted portrait of him, and to this end produced several charming drawings of the child in 1917.

The present sheet is one of only three known portrait drawings of Schiele’s young nephew to date from 1918. Of the other two drawings, likewise drawn in black crayon alone, one shows him seated on his mother’s lap, while in the other he is shown in much the same way as in this drawing, seated and facing forward. This is indeed how he appears in Schiele’s painting of 1918, which was left unfinished at the artist’s death in October of that year. In the painting, as in the present sheet and other drawings of the young Toni Peschka at the age of two or three, the child is depicted wearing a dress, which was not uncommon for small boys at that time.

In this intimate portrayal of his young nephew (who, like his father and uncle, was to become a painter and a student at the Akademie in Vienna), Schiele was able to capture something of the essence of childhood. n later years, Anton Peschka, Jr. would recall sitting for his uncle at Schiele’s studio on Hietzinger Hauptstrasse in Vienna, for which sessions his mother and the artist would always make precise appointments. He also remembered that whenever he became restless the artist would placate him with candy, and would sometimes also show him a toy steam train.

Of the drawings produced in the last year of the artist’s life, Jane Kallir was written; ‘Always the speedy worker, Schiele had finally found the perfect line. In 1917 and 1918 he was usually able to capture his subjects with a single, virtually unbroken sweep of his crayon. In his works on paper, he became more and more focused on the qualities of drawing as such, and therefore relatively few of his 1918 studies are colored. Instead he was increasingly interested in sculpting volume…Schiele had no need, as formerly, to redrawn or embellish faulty contours…he was in complete control, and in these drawings Schiele achieved an unprecedented degree of accuracy.’

The authenticity of this drawing, which is previously unpublished, has been confirmed by Jane Kallir.

Provenance:
The estate of the artist
Private collection, Australia, since the late 1990’s.

Egon SCHIELE

Portrait of a Child (Anton Peschka, Jr.)

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