Lot 386
  • 386

Egon Schiele

350,000 - 450,000 USD
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  • Egon Schiele
  • Stehender männlicher Rückenakt (Standing Male Nude, Back View)
  • Signed Schiele and dated 10. (lower left)
  • Watercolor, pencil and charcoal on paper
  • 17 7/8 by 12 1/2 in.
  • 45 by 31.3 cm


Lillian Langseth-Christensen, Vienna & New York (probably acquired in the 1920s)
Galerie St. Etienne, New York
Paul & Rita Reif, New York
Serge Sabarsky Gallery, New York
Private East Coast Educational Institution (and sold: Christie's, New York, November 14, 1984, lot 226)
Private American Collection
Sale: Sotheby's, London, February 6, 2008, lot 120
Acquired at the above sale


New York, Galerie St. Etienne, Egon Schiele, The Graphic Work, 1970
Tokyo, The Seibu Museum of Art, Egon Schiele, 1979, no. 12
London, Marlborough Fine Art, Egon Schiele: An Exhibition of Watercolours and Drawings, 1979, no. 15
Munich, Galerie Schweinsteiger, circa 1980, no. 95


Jane Kallir, Egon Schiele: The Complete Works, New York, 1998, no. 676, illustrated p. 424


Executed on buff coloured wove paper, not laid down, attached to the mount in all four corners and at intermittent intervals along the edges. There are artist's pinholes to all four corners. There is a minor loss to the upper edge, near the right corner, and two faint flattened creases running down the left, right and bottom edges. Apart from some light handling dirt to the edges, and some light handling marks to the center of the sheet, this work is in good condition.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

In 1910, Schiele executed a number of drawings and watercolors of the male body, which epitomize his highly individual, newly developed Expressionist style.  As an adolescent with characteristically narcissistic preoccupations, he created studies of male torsos, arms and legs that often resemble his own body and were, in fact, usually self-portraits.  In the present work, the figure stands with his back towards us, providing us with a view of the long and lean torso.  Schiele plays particular attention here to the curve of the spine and the sharp points of the shoulder blades protruding through the taut skin.  The outline of the body is roughly sketched in charcoal, revealing the strong skeletal structure, while the flesh is highlighted with soft washes of color.  The most curious element here is the rumpled shirt sleeve which hangs from the figure's arm and almost appears to be an extension of that limb.  The other arm is not shown at all, and we are left to imagine that it is tucked against his chest or might be touching his face.  Regardless of the intent of the act, we know that this is a pose which cannot hold for very long and it is our anticipation of this movement that adds a sense of dynamism to the scene.

Writing about Schiele's depictions of the male nude, Simon Wilson has observed, "Schiele's mature art presents us with an image of a man, free-floating, seen from strange and unusual angles and in strange an unusual postures, that is quite new in the long history the human image in Western art.  He developed in other works a completely fresh view of man in art – an extraordinary achievement.  But that is not all: Schiele's image of man is of unprecedented and remarkable completeness.  He depicts [men] as the sexual being [they] are in a way no other great artist had ever done before, and at the same time gives full and equal value to the metaphysical and the psychological" (Simon Wilson, Egon Schiele, Ithaca, 1980, p. 18).

The first known owner of this work was the writer Lillian Langseth-Christensen, who immigrated to the United States from Austria in the 1920s.  Her family was acquainted with many Viennese artists, including Klimt, and it is most likely that she acquired this work in Vienna before she came to New York.