Works by Egon Schiele at Sotheby's
Egon Schiele Biography
Austrian painter Egon Schiele was an important figurative painter during the early years of the 20th century. He is best remembered for his elongated, distorted, and often sexually explicit portraits and self-portraits as well as his cityscapes of Vienna.
Born in 1890 in the Austrian town of Tulin, Schiele enrolled in the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Vienna in 1906. Soon after, he sought out his artistic role model Gustav Klimt, with whom he would form an important and influential relationship and to whom his early works are deeply indebted. In 1910 Schiele began to create his nudes – the images that would bring him both renown and notoriety. Usually featuring women, these paintings and drawings depicted distorted, often emaciated bodies and exert a raw sexual energy rendered in Schiele’s idiosyncratic pulsating lines.
Throughout the early 1910s, Schiele and his conspicuously young mistress, Wally, sought artistic refuge in towns throughout Austria, but their unconventional lifestyle, and his works – which were often deemed pornographic – provoked critical and communal backlash. In 1912, Schiele was briefly imprisoned for his work. Nevertheless, he continued paint and draw. In 1914, Schiele married Edith Harms, who would become his frequent mode. The last years of his Schiele’s brief life were marked by notable success. In 1918, 50 of his works were included in the Vienna Secession’s 49th exhibition. Schiele would not live to see the fruits of his success however. The Spanish flu epidemic of 1918 claimed the lives of pregnant Edith and, three days later, Schiele himself. He was 28 years old.
His reputation grew in the years following his death and his works now are included in eminent collections around the world with major holdings at the Leopold Museum, and the Albertina, both in Vienna, and Neue Galerie, New York. The market for Schiele is strong. According to Sotheby’s Mei Moses, the average compound annual return for Schiele work resold at auction between 2003 and 2017 was 8.0%. 92.2% of 102 such works increased in value.