Lot 5
  • 5

Egon Schiele

1,800,000 - 2,500,000 GBP
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  • Egon Schiele
  • signed Egon Schiele and dated 1914 (lower right)
  • gouache and pencil on paper
  • 48.5 by 32cm.
  • 19 1/8 by 12 1/2 in.


Heinrich Stinnes, Cologne
Private Collection, Germany (by descent from the above. Sold: Gutekunst & Klipstein, Bern, 20th-22nd June 1938, lot 1051)
Zdenko Bruck, Bern & Buenos Aires (purchased at the above sale. Sold: Galerie Kornfeld, Bern, 21st June 1980, lot 1297)
Rudolf Leopold, Vienna (purchased at the above sale)
Leopold Museum, Vienna (acquired in 1994)


Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Klimt, Schiele, Kokoschka, 1981, no. 84, illustrated in the catalogue
Tokyo, Isetan Museum; Nagoya, Aichi Prefectural Museum; Nara, Nara Prefectural Museum; Kofu City, Yamanashi Prefectural Museum & Kamakura, Kamakura Museum of Art, Egon Schiele und Wien zur Jahrhundertwende, 1986, no. 46, illustrated in colour in the catalogue
Munich, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Der Kampf der Geschlechter, 1995
Tübingen, Kunsthalle; Düsseldorf, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen; Hamburg, Hamburger Kunsthalle; Graz, Neue Galerie am Landesmuseum Joanneum; New York, The Museum of Modern Art; Barcelona, Museu Picasso & Tulln, Stadtgemeinde Tulln, Egon Schiele: Die Sammlung Leopold, Wien, 1995-98, no. 108, illustrated in colour in the catalogue
Vienna, Leopold Museum & Oldenburg, Horst-Janssen-Museum, Egon Schiele – Horst Jannsen: Selbstinszenierung. Eros und Tod, 2004-05, no. 6, illustrated in colour in the catalogue


Rudolf Leopold, Egon Schiele: Blätter aus Privatbesitz, Teil 1, Faksimile der Moderne, Graz, 1985, illustrated in colour pl. 5
Jane Kallir, Egon Schiele: The Complete Works, New York, 1998, no. 1655, illustrated p. 541
Sonja Niederacher, www.bmukk.gv.at/medienpool/20883/dossier_schiele_sbgaug.pdf


Executed on cream wove paper, not laid down, T-hinged to the mount at the reverse of the top two corners and floating in the mount. There is one very small replaced paper loss towards the top left edge and one small supported tear towards the top of the right edge as well as one very small paper loss to the lower left corner. Apart from a few small pigment losses in the painted areas, this work is in very good condition.Colours: Overall fairly accurate in the printed catalogue illustration, although the green has a slightly less blue tonality and is more vibrant in the original.
"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. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

Selbstdarstellung in grünem Hemd mit geschlossenen Augen, executed in 1914, is an outstanding example of Egon Schiele’s ability to create electrifying self-portraiture. The breath-taking acuity of Schiele’s line heightens the tension created between the skin’s delicate pallor and the dazzling emerald smock, and highlights the ingenuity of Schiele’s gouache technique. The artist’s predominant mode of self-portraiture prior to 1915 was to construct a mythical persona, whose shielded eyes and hermitically austere clothing signified the figure's prophetic powers of self-awareness (figs. 1 & 2). The tightly wrung hands are archetypical of his use of gesture as a visual rendition of complex emotional and artistic attitudes.

The present work shares many of the characteristics that Schiele had already begun to use the previous year. In particular the simple costume of brilliantly coloured robes and smocks helped to enhance the ‘prophetical’ postures made by his gaunt doppelgängers (fig. 4), the rich colours helping to remove traces of conventional religious piety. The emaciated, skull-like features and etiolated fingers express the spiritual hunger and suffering of the ‘Artist’, and are further extensions of the allegorical sentiments expressed by his shielded eyes. Commenting on the importance of this subject, Vivien Gaston wrote: ‘Egon Schiele’s sensational self-portraits explore a new vision of the relation between mind, body, and emotion. In attitudes of dance-like eloquence, he mobilises his whole body, expressing sexual vitality, vulnerability, suffering and malaise’ (V. Gaston, Vienna: Art & Design - Klimt, Schiele, Hoffmann, Loos (exhibition catalogue), National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 2011, p. 146). 

Discussing the remarkable metaphorical images Schiele executed of himself, Jane Kallir writes: ‘Schiele’s allegorical self-representations were not intended to be autobiographical statements, but it is nonetheless obvious that blindness, for an artist, was an unfortunate choice of theme. As a ‘self-seer,’ Schiele had formerly been extraordinarily attuned to his own internal responses, but at times blind to the outside world. In order to make more meaningful contact with others, would the artist have to lose touch with himself?’ (J. Kallir, Egon Schiele, Drawings and Watercolours, New York, 2003, p. 279). Schiele’s obsessive creation of self-portraits culminated in the monumental Entschwebung (Die Blinden II) and in the lost work Begegnung (fig. 3). These grand allegorical paintings used the format of self-depiction established in fully worked gouaches such as Selbstdarstellung in grünem Hemd mit geschlossenen Augen.

Alessandra Comini suggests that in 1914 Schiele had an additional, rather extraordinary, use for self-portraiture. During his early courtship of his neighbours, the Harms sisters - Adele and Edith – the artist produced a number of strongly coloured, daringly posed self-portraits. Comini recounts that these two well brought up girls would watch Schiele as he worked through their windows across the Hietzinger Hauptstrasse and ‘when Schiele discovered their attention, he responded with outlandish pantomimes and began drawing large pictures of himself wearing nothing but his short, sleeveless painting jerkin. He would hold the brightly coloured drawings out of his window to tease and shock the girls’ (A. Comini, Egon Schiele Portraits, Berkeley & Los Angeles, 1974, pp. 136-137). The renewed vigour with which Schiele produced this stream of self-portraits stemmed from the need to promote himself, as well as his art, to the sisters. Therefore he created bold, highly stylised images that were unmistakable representations of himself as well as personifications of the ‘self-seer’.