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Egon Schiele (Tulln 1890 - Wien 1918)

Two seated women

Pencil on paper
55.9 x 37.1 cm

This sheet attests to three respects in which Schiele’s approach to life drawing had evolved by the end of 1911. His preference now for smoother, paler paper both encouraged and facilitated a greater concern with mise-en-page. Although his figures here are ranged to the left, and are thus cropped on that side, this off-centring does not appear in the least accidental, an impression reinforced by the compensatory, rightward positioning of the signature and date. Schiele had by now also begun to use pencils with a harder lead, with which he could obtain exceptionally fine lines. Here he has, on occasion, retained the delicacy of such effects, as in the hair of the foreground figure; but he has otherwise carefully over-traced his initial pencil markings, hence the resulting schematic quality and the element of “angularity” that commentators have noted. Thirdly, Schiele’s subjects were by now indubitably professional models, a status they retain even when he appears to play with the notion of capturing them “off duty” and “off guard” – momentarily overcome by a sense of tedium, an urge to daydream, a tremor of anxiety – as they wait to be called upon to pose.
The pairing or, more strictly speaking, doubling in this sheet is of particular interest. The very close resemblance of the two figures (be it in their hair, faces, physique or cursorily noted accessories) and the reiteration of poses or gestures (the left leg loosely crossed over the right, the hand supporting or raised to the chin) would seem to indicate that Schiele may here have used one model to serve for two – an “economising” studio practise possibly first suggested by his own keen use of the studio mirror. Attending first to the figure shown bending slightly forward, he would next have rearranged her pose, then added his record of this as if it were that of a second model positioned behind her. Given Schiele’s preoccupation at this time with the notion of “the double”, not least in connection with the two versions of his nightmarish self portrait The Self-Seers (Kallir, cat. rais. no. P 174; P 193), it is not surprising that there are a good number of pairs to be found among his figure studies. In some of these the two models are posed in such close proximity that they appear to “share” a particular limb,1 as is indeed also the case with the sole lowered arm in our sheet.
The female figure drawn on the verso, in delicate pencil strokes over-traced only in the region of the hands, revisits the seated and cross-legged pose of those on the recto. Dressed, however, in a long gown and accompanied by extensive hints at generously upholstered seating, this has the character less of a studio exercise than of a rapidly executed portrait sketch. Schiele’s especially careful delineation of the elegant long fingers and his apparent interest in the headgear point to a possible connection with the anonymous sitter found in a further pencil drawing of 1911, Woman in an Armchair (Kallir, cat. rais. no. D 890), who also shares our verso figure’s distinctively rotund face.

1See, for example, Kallir, cat. rais. nos. D 848 or D 886.

Elizabeth Clegg

Provenance: Marlborough Fine Art, London; Serge Sabarsky Gallery, New York.

Literature: Serge Sabarsky, Zeichnungen und Aquarelle des deutschen Expressionismus, Stuttgart 1990. - Jane Kallir, Egon Schiele: The Complete Works, expanded edn. New York and London 1998, catalogue raisonné no. D 796; verso catalogue raisonné no. D 1103a. - Schiele, Twombly, Basquiat , Nahmad Contemporary, New York, May – June 2014, fig. p. 103.

Egon Schiele: Zeichnungen und Aquarelle aus den Beständen des Historischen Museums der Egon Schiele: Zeichnungen und Aquarelle aus den Beständen des Historischen Museums der Stadt Wien und aus amerikanischem Privatbesitz ausgewählt von Serge Sabarsky, Historisches Museum der Stadt Wien, Wien, September 1981. Neue Galerie der Stadt Linz/ Wolfgang – Gurlitt – Museum, Linz, November 1981 bis Jänner 1982. Museum Villa Stuck, München, Frühjahr 1982. Kestner Gesellschaft, Hannover, April bis Juni 1982, Abb. Nr. 36 - Egon Schiele, Pinacoteca Capitolina, Rom, Juni bis August 1984. Museo d´Arte Moderna CaPesaro, Venedig, August bis November 1984, Abb. Nr. 86. - Zeichnungen und Aquarelle des deutschen Expressionismusm, Städtische Galerie Bietigheim-Bissingen, Bietingheim-Bissingen, Juli bis September 1990. Oberösterreichisches Landesmuseum, Linz, September bis Oktober 1990. Herforder Kunstverein, Herford, November bis Dezember 1990. Jahrhunderthalle Hoechst, Hoechst/Frankfurt, Dezember 1990 bis Februar 1991. Künstlerhaus der Stadt Graz, Graz, May bis Juli 1991. Tiroler Landesmuseum Ferdinandeum, Innsbruck, März bis April 1991. BAWAG Fondation, Wien, September bis Oktober 1991. - Egon Schiele: Arbeiten auf Papier. Galerie Hauser & Wirth, Zürich, 27. Februar – 17. April 1994, S. 53. - Egon Schiele: 100 Zeichnungen und Aquarelle. Panorama Museum. Bad Frankenhausen. 18. November – 11. Februar 1996. Städtische Galerie Klagenfurt. Klagenfurt. 4. Juli – 15. September 1996, Nr. 53. - Egon Schiele: Drawings and Watercolors. The Serge Sabarsky Foundation. New York. 6. Juni 1996 (Memorial Service). - Egon Schiele. International Cultural Centre. Krakau. 11. Dezember 1996 – 30. Jänner 1997. Cankarjev Dom. Fine Art Gallery CD. Ljubljana. 22. April – 10. Juni 1997, Nr. 53. - Egon Schiele: The Ronald S. Lauder and Serge Sabarsky Collections. Neue Galerie New York. 21. Oktober 2005 – 20. Februar 2006, Kat. D. 71, Abb. S. 246.- Schiele. Twombly. Basquiat, Nahmad Contemporary, New York. May – June 2014.