- Egon Schiele
Halbakt, Rückenansicht (Semi-Nude, Back View)
- Signed Egon Schiele and dated 1918 (bottom center)
- Black crayon on paper
- 19 1/2 by 12 1/2 in.
- 49.5 by 31.7 cm
(probably) Gustav Nebehay, Vienna (probably acquired from the artist)
Christian M. Nebehay, Vienna (probably by descent from the above)
Thence by descent to the present owner
This fantastically candid drawing of a nude woman was one of the last compositions that Schiele would complete before his death in October 1918. Schiele was at his most confident and financially successful at the end of his career, and his perfection of his craft is evidenced by his single-tone drawings of nudes. Any traces of his earlier, adolescent hesitancy towards this subject are gone from these later compositions. What remains is the perfected mark of a draftsman who had spent the better part of his career catering to his obsession with the female form. Now he could render the curves and contours of the flesh with a few, single strokes of black crayon. His knowledge of the surface details of the body was hyper-acute, and his draftsmanship was almost cartographical in its accuracy. That wonderful precision and economy of line is beautifully expressed in this drawing.
Jane Kallir has written the following about these last drawings and their near-perfection: " In his works on paper, he became more and more focused on the qualities of drawing as such, and therefore relatively few of his 1918 studies are colored. Instead, he was increasingly interested in sculpting volume, embellishing interior details with curious little loops.... Schiele had no need, as formerly, to redraw or embellish faulty contours, though he did on occasion make mistakes in draftsmanship. These mistakes should not be ascribed to sloppiness, but rather to pace. The artist's extraordinary velocity like that of a master race car driver, occasionally caused him to veer off course. Usually, however, he was in complete control, and in these drawings Schiele achieved an unprecedented degree of accuracy" (Jane Kallir, Egon Schiele, Drawings and Watercolors, New York, 2003, p. 441-442).