Please note that in the print catalogue for this sale, this lot appears as number 56T.
Schiele’s stylistic development in 1910 was remarkable. Through countless figure studies he refined his line, while employing limpid watercolor washes to enhance and animate his models. Discussing the group of male nudes Schiele executed at this time, Jane Kallir comments: “Though the Expressionist breakthrough is heralded in some 1909 drawings, the speed and extremity of Schiele’s development in 1910 are such that his work leaves all previous efforts far behind. There is no precedent for the radical, garishly twisted nudes that appear almost at the very start of the year (nos. 644-73)” (J. Kallir, op. cit., New York, 1990, p. 391).
Schiele executed many of his most powerful gouaches of this period, including the present work, on a crisp brown paper which, with its slightly polished surface, does not easily absorb paint, thus leaving the colors to dry on the surface. The acid greens, bright reds and brilliant oranges, contained by the powerful black line he used in this work, soon became the hallmark of this 1910 style. Color is applied in isolated patches that merge and overlap only at the edges. This side-by-side clash of complementary hues gives this work a powerful effect, enhanced by the attention to detail such as the precisely drawn hair in the armpit and the hauntingly angular right hand.
This drawing was formerly in the collection of Otto Benesch (1896-1964), director of the Graphische Sammlung Albertina, Vienna. It is inscribed ‘Egon Schiele aus Sammlung Benesch’. Otto’s father Heinrich began collecting Schiele’s work in 1910 and later divided his collection between the Sammlung Albertina and his son Otto. In 1913 Schiele painted a double portrait of them titled Double Portrait (Chief Inspector Heinrich Benesch and His Son Otto) (Kallir, no. P250).
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