The present work was executed in 1918 by which time Schiele was celebrated as a master draughtsman whose maturity was particularly evident in his renderings of female models. No longer an adolescent focusing only on their sexuality, Schiele was now able to render his female sitters with a sense of spirit and individuality, something beautifully realised in the present work. Writing about his portraiture from this period of his life, Jane Kallir observed: 'While Schiele's paintings of men can be perfunctory, suggesting a task done more for money than for love, the women in the drawings are invariably alert, vibrant human beings with a palpable presence. Just as Schiele once boldly chronicled the power of female sexuality, he now acknowledged female identity in a manner that was, for its day, hardly less radical' (Jane Kallir, Egon Schiele: Drawings and Watercolours, London, 2003, p. 442).
Lilly Steiner's striking facial features captivated the young Schiele, who executed another four portraits of her, one of which is held today in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
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