W&K FINE ART - WIENERROITHER & KOHLBACHER
Egon Schiele was born on 12 June 1890 in the small Lower Austrian town of Tulln. He attended grammar school at Klosterneuburg, where his art teacher Ludwig Karl Strauch became aware of his artistic talent. Schiele had a difficult childhood that was overshadowed by the premature death of one of his sisters and his father’s progressing mental illness, which eventually led to his death in 1905. After having lost his father at an early age, in 1906 Schiele’s uncle Leopold Czihaczek was appointed as his guardian. Against his uncle’s will, Schiele left school and enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna in 1906 where, however, he soon felt that his teacher Christian Griepenkerl and the rigmarole of academic routine restricted his development. In 1908 he became acquainted with Heinrich Benesch, an important friend and patron, and soon after the art historian Arthur Roessler. Throughout his life Schiele had the good fortune of having the support of important friends and patrons on his side. In 1909 Schiele left the Academy and was a co-founder of the Neukunstgruppe (New Art Group). Postcard designs for the Wiener Werkstätte brought him into contact with Josef Hoffmann; he also made the acquaintance of Gustav Klimt during this period. At the Kunstschau of 1909 – where Klimt was president of the exhibition committee – Schiele showed four pictures. These demonstrated the painterly breakthrough of the artist who was only nineteen and the formation of his own style, free from academic constraints. In 1910 the quarrels with Leopold Czihaczek escalated and he renounced his guardianship. Schiele then had to stand on his own feet financially. In 1911 he met Wally Neuzil, who became his favourite model and soon after his partner. They first went to live in Krumau, today Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic, yet the small-town mentality was offended by Schiele who sometimes took young girls as his nude models. Having left Krumau, Schiele moved to Neulengbach in Lower Austria where on 13 April 1912 he was arrested for allegedly seducing a minor and was held in custody for a total of twenty-four days. These charges were dropped and Schiele’s sentence was ultimately three days’ detention for circulating indecent drawings. He then moved to Vienna. His patrons at this time included Franz Hauer and the Lederer family. In 1915 he married Edith Harms and shortly after was called up for military service to Prague. His duties took him first as a guard to Atzgersdorf by Vienna and later as a clerk to Mühling in Lower Austria. In 1917 he was transferred to the K.u.K. Konsumanstalt (army food and supplies depot) in Vienna. In the same year the Österreichische Staatsgalerie purchased its first works by Schiele and the artist association Sonderbund was founded. In the spring of 1918 he was transferred to the Vienna Military Museum. Schiele died on 31 October 1918 of Spanish influenza, just after his wife had succumbed to the same disease.