From the Catalogue: Egon Schiele
Together with his close friend and mentor Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele helped shape the art scene of Vienna in the early 20th Century. Showing an enormous talent for portraiture, and the ability to portray movement and form in a unique and gripping way, Schiele himself looked to Gustav Klimt and his two-dimensional style to help develop his own penmanship.
His fascination with Klimt and the group that was known as the Vienna Secessionists was born out of his early development at the Wiener Academy. During these early years of study he was pressed to portray scenes of historical importance through a much more traditional method of painting, one much more focused on realism. His frustration with the academy heightened his interest in the Vienna Secessionists who looked to break out of the traditional academic style and instead become more expressive in both their art and their lives.
These two portraits were both draw at critical moments in Schiele’s oeuvre. In 1908 he had left the Wiener academy and since enrolled in the Vienna academy. Given the freedom of expression and the influence of Gustav Klimt over the two years leading to this point, it is here that he first started to draw his portraits with clear, distinct outlines and accentuated features, such as the hair, or in the case of Portrat einer Dame, 1908, her eyebrows. This was a seminal time in Schiele’s life where his unique style was developed, resulting in his first exhibition held in Klosterneuburg, Austria.
In the case of Liegendes Kind, 1910 Schiele had left the Academy and had begun to experiment not only with the image itself but also with the subject matter of his portraits. While he was increasingly interested in sexuality and was starting to portray more explicit scenes, we see an image that harks back to his early years at the Vienna Academy. Liegendes Kind, 1910 is an experimentation with depth and line, and has the distinctive accentuated eyes and eyelashes, that was common in Schiele’s early portraiture. Drawn in 1910, Egon Schiele was starting to exhibit more regularly and was producing an ever increasing number of works, honing his style and allowing for this experimentation, while still being able to look back and produce works that would easily fit in the earlier years of his oeuvre.
These works, one an investigation with depth, the other a classic portrait of eccentricity, were drawn at pivotal moments in the artist’s career. Allowing the viewer to see Schiele’s developed style and his iconic portraiture already apparent in these early years.