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Am rücken liegendes mädchen mit überkreuzten armen und beinen (girl

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This highly accomplished work is characteristic of Schiele’s masterful mature style. Am Rücken liegendes Mädchen mit überkreuzten Armen und Beinen belongs to a series of line drawings of semi-nude female figures which combine a strong sexuality with a novel sense of perspective that is particular to the artist’s final works. In January 1917 Schiele was released from military service and returned to Vienna, and the period that followed was marked by a hectic and fruitful artistic activity and relative prosperity. His financial situation improved with a number of wealthy patrons who commissioned him to make portraits and magazine illustrations, and towards the end of the war, he seems to have witnessed a growing interest in art among the Viennese public, together with a more relaxed attitude in relation to his avant-garde and often shocking art. Even the usually conservative critic, Adalbert Seligmann, writing for the Neue Freie Presse, expressed his admiration for the artist’s accomplishments: ‘It is always a pleasure to look at drawings by Egon Schiele. Superb how, while completely renouncing light and shade, tone and colour, the entire life, the whole expression of the subject appears captured in the contour alone’ (quoted in Peter Vergo, Art in Vienna 1898-1918, London, 1975, p. 241).\n\nSchiele’s newly found financial security enabled him to hire professional models which he used to pose in a variety of confrontational ways that he had previously had to rely on his unwilling wife to perform. In Am Rücken liegendes Mädchen mit überkreuzten Armen und Beinen the model has rocked onto her back with her crossed legs held above her. Heinrich Benesch, an important patron and friend of the artist, recalled seeing Schiele sketching from the top of a ladder in order to create his extraordinary compositions. To further increase the decorative impact of the present work, the signature has been placed in such a way as to invert the image. Another, increasingly common, feature of his later depictions of women is the painstaking attention paid to the delineation of the folds and swirls of cloth. Underclothes and skirts often form dazzling patterns out of which limbs emerge, heightening the erotic tension. In works such as Liegende Frau (fig. 1), painted in 1917, the schematic effect of the rippling white sheet is mesmeric whilst remaining subservient to the overall harmony of the composition.\n\nJane Kallir has observed of these works executed during the final years of Schiele's life: ‘He had always been a demon draftsman, capable of achieving stop-action effects comparable to those of photography, and his line, by 1917, had acquired an unprecedented degree of precision [...]. Schiele’s drawing technique – the armature upon which all his painted forms rested – had acquired an almost classical purity. Peschka accused him, with some accuracy, of reverting to Griepenkerl’s precepts, and it is true that Schiele’s work manifested a heretofore unknown fidelity to the representational integrity of his subject matter and a new sensitivity to the ability of line to suggest volume. Schiele’s hand had never been surer, more capable of grasping, in a single breath-taking sweep, the complete contour of a figure. This extreme dexterity invited mannerism; when his subject was not particularly exciting, drawing was just too easy for him. And yet, when he was inspired, his execution was flawless; he had found, in the best of his late work, the perfect line’ (J. Kallir, Egon Schiele, Life and Work, New York, 2003, pp. 223 & 230).\n\nThis ‘perfect line’ is fully evident in Am Rücken liegendes Mädchen mit überkreuzten Armen und Beinen, which illustrates how he turned from the frenzied, sexually explicit works of the pre-war years towards a more elegant style (figs. 2 & 3).  'I want to start anew', Schiele wrote to his brother-in-law Anton Peschka shortly after returning to Vienna in January 1917. 'It seems to me that until now I have just been preparing the tools' (quoted in J. Kallir, Egon Schiele: Drawings and Watercolours, London, 2003, p. 384). In contrast to the brittle febrility of his earlier nudes, the manner in which he presented the female form in his later works achieves a sense of languorous corporeality. Jane Kallir comments that ‘Schiele’s women are, by 1917-18, thoroughly modern. Like most modern women, they own their sexuality. The nude and semi-nude models take pride in their seductive bodies and are empowered by their allure […]. Nor are they projections of the artist’s ego. They combine the mystery and the specificity of complete, independent human beings’ (J. Kallir, Egon Schiele’s Women, Munich, 2012, p. 266).\nSigned Egon Schiele and dated 1918 (lower right)


Black crayon on paper


Egon Schiele


Executed on cream wove paper, not laid down, T-hinged to the mount at the reverse of the top two corners and floating in the mount. The top two corners have been skilfully replaced and there is one minute repaired tear towards the top of the left edge. This work is in very good condition.Colours: Overall fairly accurate in the printed catalogue illustration, although the paper tone is slightly cooler and less yellow in the original. "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. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."


44.4 by 29.3cm.


Munich, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Der Kampf der Geschlechter, 1995 Tübingen, Kunsthalle; Düsseldorf, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen; Hamburg, Hamburger Kunsthalle; Graz, Neue Galerie am Landesmuseum Joanneum; New York, The Museum of Modern Art; Barcelona, Museu Picasso & Tulln, Stadtgemeinde Tulln, Egon Schiele: Die Sammlung Leopold, Wien, 1995-98, no. 151, illustrated in the catalogue Paris, Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Klimt, Schiele, Moser, Kokoschka: Vienna 1900, 2005-06, illustrated in the catalogue


Rudolf Leopold, Egon Schiele, Paintings, Watercolours, Drawings, New York, 1973, illustrated p. 491 Jane Kallir, Egon Schiele: The Complete Works, New York, 1990, no. 2419, listed p. 630 Jane Kallir, Egon Schiele: The Complete Works, New York, 1998, no. 2419, illustrated p. 683 (image inverted) Sonja Niederacher, www.bmukk.gv.at/medienpool/20879/dossier_schiele_liegendeuebe.pdf


Arthur Stemmer, Vienna & London Rudolf Leopold, Vienna (acquired from the above in 1954) Leopold Museum, Vienna (acquired in 1994)


Signed Egon Schiele and dated 1918 (lower right)


Executed in 1918.


Property from the Leopold Museum, Vienna


1890 - 1918

*Vänligen notera att att priset inte är omräknat till dagens värde, utan avser slutpriset vid tidpunkten när föremålet såldes.

*Vänligen notera att att priset inte är omräknat till dagens värde, utan avser slutpriset vid tidpunkten när föremålet såldes.