Woman Painting at the Easel in a Summer Landscape - Schiele, Egon

Fine Art

Schiele, Egon

Egon Schiele was one of the most significant artists from turn-of-the-century Vienna, along with Gustav Klimt and Oskar Kokoschka. The artist was only 20 when he cultivated his mature, Expressionist style, but his life was cut short a mere eight years later by the Spanish Flu.

Schiele was born in 1890 in the Austrian town of Tulln. His exceptional talent was recognized early on and he gained acceptance to the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna at the young age of 16. During his time in the Academy, Schiele sought out artist Gustav Klimt, who assisted the young artist and became a mentor. After only three years, Schiele left the Academy, having grown increasingly frustrated with the institution‘s conservative approach to figuration. He then founded the Neukunstgruppe (the New Art Group) in 1909 with other dissatisfied students. That same year Schiele participated in the Internationale Kunstschau Wien with four paintings

In his early years, Schiele was influenced by fellow Viennese artists Klimt and Kokoschka. In 1910, Schiele’s style further evolved by an invigorated drawing technique, with a flair for the eccentric. He produced erotic nudes, often distorting the figures. Undisguised nudity and his version of obscenity were provocative. After leaving Vienna in 1911, Schiele moved to Krumau where he produced numerous views of the town and the vineyards; but he continued with nudes of ever younger models, leading to his expulsion by the citizens of that small town. He then moved to Neulengbach, where similar pictures led to a local scandal. Schiele was accused of making and distributing immoral drawings, as well as having seduced minors. He was sentenced to three weeks prison in 1912 where he continued to draw, expressing his mindset while incarcerated.

After Schiele returned to Vienna, his output accelerated and in 1918 he took part in a group exhibition of the Vienna Secession, where he exhibited 50 paintings. He subsequently participated in A Century of Viennese Painting at the Kunsthaus Zürich, as well as shows in Prague and Dresden. Although his budding career ended abruptly due to his untimely death in 1918, his renown grew posthumously and his works became amongst the most important of Modernity.

Owing to the broad brushstroke and the three-dimensional account of the setting, our early example already hints at overcoming the dominant style offered at the Academy. With our Summer Landscape, Egon Schiele alters the spatial depth by presenting a higher vanishing point without a horizon line, creating a more closed setting; and he has well balanced the depiction between figure and landscape, thereby presenting a fresh concept of space. The palette is subtle, composed by only a few tones, highlighting great detail throughout.

Noteworthy is that the figure portrayed is a female artist, when at the time, and until 1920, only male students were even admitted to the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts.

Furthermore, according to the catalogue raisonné, it is the only painting in his oeuvre that depicts an artist working at the easel, in addition to her being female.