PROPERTY OF A DISTINGUISHED NEW ENGLAND COLLECTOR
Mathilde Lukcas-Herzl (sister-in-law of the above)
Gutekunst & Klipstein, Bern (purchased from the above on May 22, 1956)
Galerie St. Etienne, New York (acquired from the above on September 18, 1956)
Norman Granz, New York
Galerie St. Etienne, New York
Acquired from the above on November 12, 1963
New York, Galerie St. Etienne, Egon Schiele, Watercolors and Drawings, 1957, no. 28, illustrated in the catalogue
Boston, Institute of Contemporary Art, Egon Schiele, 1960, no. 63
Jane Kallir, Egon Schiele: The Complete Works, New York, 1990, no. 1974, illustrated p. 579
Jane Kallir, Egon Schiele: The Complete Works, Expanded Edition, New York, 1998, no. 1974, illustrated p. 579
Marie-Theres Arnbon and Christoph Wagner-Trenkwitz (ed.), Grüß mich Gott, Fritz Grünbaum Eine Biographie 1880-1941, Vienna, 2005, p. 204
The present work is one of the most intriguing examples from this late period, when Schiele, now financially successful and married to Edith Harms, was no less excited by the erotic power of his own images. While his omission of the figure's head could be an attempt to concentrate exclusively on the body, it may also have been a choice to conceal his model's identity from his wife. At the time he completed this picture, Schiele was engaged in an extramarital affair with Adele Harms, Edith's sister. In a photograph taken by the artist around the time he completed this gouache, Adele appears in the same white chemise and black stockings that are depicted in the present work. One might imagine the pleasure the artist experienced he worked on this drawing, luxuriating in every curve and detail of his lover's body without the risk of revealing his secret. His focus here is almost entirely on her legs, one bent in front of her torso and the other partially stretched out beyond the picture plane. He renders the most sensual details of her anatomy - the firm contours of her calves and the supple flesh of her thighs extending from her lacy undergarments - with remarkable confidence and technical control. Only the most skilled of draughtsmen could depict this hyper-sexualised subject with such formal sophistication.
The first known owner of this work was the famed playwright, cabaret artist and connoisseur Fritz Grünbaum of Vienna. Grünbaum was one of the great early collectors of Schiele’s works and tragically lost his life in Dachau in 1940. This work was sold by his sister-in-law in 1956 to Gutekunst and Klipstein who sold it that same year to Galerie St. Etienne in New York. At one time it was claimed that the present work was looted from Fritz Grünbaum or his widow Elizabeth Grünbaum-Herzl after the Anschluß in 1938; however, the New York trial court found that the drawing had never been looted by the Nazis and in a decision affirmed by the appellate court, confirmed the current ownership of the drawing.
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