Egon Schiele - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Sunday, June 26, 2016 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    E. W. Kornfield, Bern
    Galerie Kornfeld, Bern
    Kornfeld & Klipstein, Zurich, Sale 161, 8 June 1977, lot 63
    Galerie G. de May, Lausanne
    The Leopold Collection, Vienna
    London, Christie's, German and Austrian Art incl. the Gerstel Collection, 20 June 2006, lot 14
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    Vienna, Graphische Sammlung Albertina, Gustav Klimt - Egon Schiele: Zum Gedächtnis ihres Todes vor 50 Jahren, April-June 1968, no 130
    Lucerne, Kunstmuseum, Kunst in Österreich 1900-1930, July-September 1974, no. 207

  • Literature

    Gustav Klimt - Egon Schiele: Zum Gedächtnis ihres Todes vor 50 Jahren, exh. cat., Graphische Sammlung Albertina, Vienna, 1968, no 130 (illustrated)
    E. Mitsch, Egon Schiele 1890 - 1918, Salzburg, 1974, fig. 10, p. 67 (illustrated)
    J. Kallir, Egon Schiele: The Complete Works, New York, 1990, no. 338, p. 386 (illustrated)
    Egon Schiele, The Leopold Collection, Vienna, exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1997, p. 12 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    This self-portrait by Egon Schiele is in many respects the archetype of the Austrian artists during the fin-de- siècle Viennese renaissance. Mannliche Figur nach Rechts is one of the self-portraits that the artist realised during his short and controversial lifetime. In such works, he would adopt an alter-ego which he referred to as the ‘self-observer’. Schiele approached self-portraits as a meditative act where he analysed himself and his work prophetically. In a monastic smock of hermetic appearance he is seen in profile stepping forward holding up his elongated and rigid hands, signalling to the viewer the tools of his craft. The simple colour palette allows the lines of the drawing to become a unifying force by which a dramatic stylisation with naturalistic rendering is achieved. Essential to his style are the blurred relationships between the figures and the environment, the active manipulation of positive and negative space, and the overall flattened stylisation. By drawing hatched lines that appear like scraped paint, a literal exposure of the psychological state of the artist is in part revealed. These unique techniques would become his trademark as he strove to constantly challenge the modern condition of European figure painting.

    In 1906, Schiele was accepted into the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts as the youngest in his class. It was there that he developed his own style of Jugendstil which later would mature and transform into his own fully fleshed brand of Expressionism. However, after three frustrated years the artist quit the academy and sought out Gustav Klimt, whom at the time was involved with alternative art scenes. One of these was the Wiener Werkstätte - a production community of artists sun informal network of privpported by aate patronage - where Schiele was initiated by Klimt in 1909. Here, Schiele made postcard designs intended for publication, such as Two Men with Halos (1909). This drawing later resulted in what would be the production of Schiele’s largest work to date: The Hermits (1912). It is widely understood that in both works Schiele not only portrayed himself but also Klimt, demonstrating the close relationship between a young artist and his mentor. The symbolism of the painting lies in the fact that it is not just 'a grey sky, but a world in mourning in which the two figures move… They [are] an organic extension of the earth. This whole world is supposed to represent the transitoriness of everything essential.' (Egon Schiele in conversation with Carl Reininghaus about The Hermits, spring of 1912. Kallir, Jane. Egon Schiele: The Complete Works. London: Thames and Hudson, 1998. p. 310).

    This self-portrait represents a crucial moment in the career and life of Schiele. His departure from the academy and acceptance of Klimt as his mentor, allowed him to break away from an academic mould in order to forge his own artistic path. The ties of this self-portrait to other works produced during period demonstrate the growth of the 'self-observer' persona and the abundant influence of his mentor. Also, the success of the drawings made during this period helped to establish his position within the circle of private patronage. Most importantly, Schiele began to uncover the sensual and ominous realm that lay hidden beneath his generation’s ornate style. It marks the rise in confidence of a young artist on the cusp of self-realization. In many ways, this menacing self-portrait foreshadowed his eventual total dismissal of academic painting in exchange for his erotic and unrestrained style that harkened his crowning as one of the most celebrated artists of his time.

Property from a Private European Collection


Manliche Figur nach rechts (Selbstporträt)
Male Figure Facing Right (Self Portrait)

watercolour, coloured crayon and pencil on paper
45 x 31.1 cm (17 3/4 x 12 1/4 in.)
Signed and dated 'SCH 1909' lower left.

Please note that there is a pencil study of a reclining girl on the verso.

£280,000 - 350,000 

Contact Specialist
Peter Sumner
Head of Contemporary Art, London
+44 207 318 4063

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 27 June 2016