Born into a well-known industrial family, the collector of a beautiful assemblage of works in our May sales of Impressionist & Modern Art grew up in the German countryside in the heart of the Rhineland, in a house filled with art and antiques. From a very young age, she demonstrated a sophisticated appreciation of beauty: rather than a doll or a bicycle, an elegant desk was at the top of her Christmas list. At age 11, she developed a fondness for porcelain, and a Ludwigsburg porcelain from 1750 was her gift one Christmas day. As a married woman, the pursuit of beauty remained a top priority for the collector, and she surrounded her house with a formal French garden. One day, her young son realized that the house itself had “turned into a museum” and the acquisition of a Post-Impressionist painting was soon welcomed into the collection. The collector and her husband often travelled to Paris for business and met numerous art dealers, including Robert Schmit, who helped them to expand the collection.
Over time, the collection’s eclectic mix of everything from Old Masters to Picasso had a forceful impact on the collector’s outlook on life. She studied the individual artworks and juxtaposed their various historical contexts through a salon style hanging, allowing each to shine in a refreshing new light. An exciting mélange of classical and modern came to define her collection, and her exhilarating aesthetic pursuits and discerning eye will continue to persevere for years to come.
A notable highlight in the collection is a suite of works on paper by Austrian Expressionist Egon Schiele. Known for his extraordinary renderings of the human body, Schiele’s articulation of form through precise, linear draughtsmanship breathes life into images of timid children, nude women and agitated young men. The collector’s works feature provocative depictions of women, which she hung alongside Dutch still lifes and Impressionist landscapes, creating a dynamic and vibrant dialogue.
EGON SCHIELE, FRAU IN UNTERWÄSCHE UND STRÜMPFEN (VALERIE NEUZIL) (WOMAN IN UNDERCLOTHES AND STOCKINGS), 1913. ESTIMATE $2,500,000–3,500,000.
This portrait depicts Schiele’s great love Wally Neuzil, who featured in Schiele’s most visually daring and experimental compositions. Schiele’s early watercolors of scantily clad women are some of the most sophisticated and provocative images in western art. They were received with scandal during the artist’s day, but were recognized for their sophistication by his contemporaries, such as his mentor Gustav Klimt. As legend has it, when Schiele asked Klimt for advice on drawing, the elder Viennese artist rebuffed him, exclaiming, “I should be asking you!”
EGON SCHIELE, FRAUENBILDNIS MIT BLAUEM UND GRÜNEM HALSTUCH (PORTRAIT OF A WOMAN WITH BLUE AND GREEN SCARF), 1914. ESTIMATE $1,500,000–2,000,000.
In this gouache from 1914, we can see Schiele incorporating color more liberally into his superior drawing practice, highlighting the woman’s posture with her bright red lips and the vibrant blue of her blouse. Schiele conveys the sitter’s intense physical and psychological presence with an astonishing economy of means, omitting her lower body entirely.
EGON SCHIELE, STEHENDES MÄDCHEN MIT GRÜNEM KLEID (STANDING GIRL WITH GREEN DRESS), 1913. ESTIMATE $1,500,000–2,000,000.
Schiele’s unparalleled expressionist brushwork stands out in the green tones of this figure’s dress. Representing a more conservative type of beauty than is typical of Schiele’s oeuvre, this woman embodies gentleness and compassion.
EGON SCHIELE, FRAU IN UNTERWÄSCHE MIT ERHOBENEM RECHTEN ARM (WOMAN IN UNDERCLOTHES WITH RAISED RIGHT ARM), 1914. ESTIMATE $300,000–500,000.
This double-sided work features two beautifully executed line drawings of woman as femme fatale. The carefully rendered curves and contours of the model’s anatomy reveal Schiele’s obsession with the allure and eroticism of the female body.