Lot 335
  • 335

Egon Schiele

260,000 - 360,000 GBP
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  • Egon Schiele
  • Weiblicher Rückenakt (Female Nude, Back View) - rectoSitzender weiblicher Akt (Seated Female Nude) - verso
  • signed Egon Schiele  and dated 1913  (recto, lower right)
  • gouache, watercolour and pencil on paper - recto
    pencil on paper - verso
  • 48 by 31.5cm., 18 7/8 by 12 3/8 in.


Private Collection, Austria (acquired in the 1950s)
Thence by descent to the present owner


Vienna, Galerie Würthle, Egon Schiele, 1977, no. 61, recto and verso illustrated in the catalogue


Jane Kallir, Egon Schiele: The Complete Works, London, 1998, no. 1272, illustrated p. 496 (recto); no. 1273, illustrated p. 497 (verso)


Executed on cream wove paper, not laid down and hinged to the mount in two places along the upper and lower edge. The sheet is time-stained. There are three artist's pinholes at the centre of the lower edge, two further artist's pinholes to the upper part of the right edge and another to the upper part of the left edge. There are tiny spots of foxing in places. The upper left corner has been restored with repair tissue, and there are some creases and tears in places, some of which have also been supported with repair tissue. There is a further area of surface restoration to the composition at the left of the head. These repairs are unobtrusive and only discernible on close inspection.This work is in overall 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. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

Following the tumultuous events of 1912, which had seen Schiele briefly imprisoned, the following year saw a marked change in his art. The charged eroticism that had previously characterised his nudes was tempered by a subtle change in focus. Jane Kallir describes this development: ‘It was not so much that the artist intentionally toned down his subject matter, as that he introduced an element of aesthetic distancing that placed more emphasis on unusual compositional angles and poses [...]. This increased geometricity – which appears concurrently in the artist’s paintings – has been attributed to the influence of Cubism [...]. His idiosyncratic assimilation of Cubist geometry had a paradoxical effect, bringing with it not only a greater degree of abstraction, but also a greater awareness of volume. The artist’s 1913 nudes begin a subliminal return to three-dimensional verisimilitude’ (J. Kallir, Egon Schiele. Drawings and Watercolours, London, 2003, pp. 222-223).

The two drawings on the present sheet, Weiblicher Rückenakt (recto) and Sitzernder weiblicher Akt (verso) encapsulate this period of Schiele’s life. In both drawings he evokes a touching vulnerability that seems – as so often in his work – to reveal more about his state of mind than that of his model. In early 1913 he was still haunted by the events of the previous year and, just as the subject of the drawings seems to allude to this, so too his stylistic approach refers back to earlier works. The verso image retains the flatness that was an inheritance of the Jugendstil style and there is a quiet eloquence to the empty space that surrounds the figure. Weiblicher Rückenakt also preserves a number of the stylistic elements that characterised Schiele’s 1912 drawings, such as the use of thicker gouache highlights for the hair as well as a certain two-dimensionality. Importantly, however, other aspects of the work reflect a new aesthetic; the foreshortening of the figure and the apparent awkwardness of the woman’s posture, supporting herself on an arm that ends in a truncated triangular hand, are indicative of this new direction. As Kallir noted: ‘These various developments superficially seem to herald a retreat from reality, but in fact the artist’s persistent geometricity presages a nascent concern with three-dimensional volume’ (J. Kallir, Egon Schiele: The Complete Works, London, 1998, p. 490). This change in focus, the beginnings of which are so elegantly illustrated by these two compositions, would prove crucial to the artist and the development of his mature style.