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Egon Leo Adolf Ludwig Schiele (* June 12, 1890 in Tulln an der Donau, Austria-Hungary; † October 31, 1918 in Vienna) was an Austrian Expressionist painter. Along with Gustav Klimt and Oskar Kokoschka, he is one of the most important visual artists of Viennese modernism.
A protégé of Gustav Klimt, Schiele was an important figurative painter of the early 20th century. His work is known for its intensity and raw sexuality, as well as the many self-portraits the artist produced, including nude self-portraits. The twisted body shapes and expressive line that characterize Schiele's paintings and drawings mark the artist as an early exponent of Expressionism.
Schiele was convinced that sexuality was the driving force of all existence. He regarded it as the motor for the cultural development of the Western world. Thus, the naked or only scantily clad depiction of man is also the central theme in Egon Schiele's works.
Schiele had a somewhat traumatic and disturbed childhood. His father, Adolf, was a station master in the Austrian Sate Railways and young Egon became obsessed with trains. He constantly drew them over and over and the obsession became so consuming that his father destroyed his sketchbooks. Schiele also displayed incestuous tendencies toward his younger sister, Gerti. Concerned with his son's behavior, Adolf broke down the children's locked door, only to discover them developing film. When Egon was sixteen, he took his twelve-year-old sister to a hotel room in Trieste without permission, but it is unknown what transpired there. Egon's confused sexuality can be seen throughout his work, which often contains contorted figures, explicitly nude and nude self-portraits. Schiele attended the Vienna School of Arts and Crafts and then became a student of Gustav Klimt, whose influence can be seen in some of his works. Although he experienced professional success, his life was also marred by a series of public struggles. In 1912 he was arrested for seducing a girl below the age of consent. Those charges were eventually dropped, but he was convicted of exhibiting erotic drawings in a place accessible to children. The judge burned one of the offending drawings over a candle in the courtroom. In 1914 he married a respectable girl named Edith Harms. After avoiding conscription for over a year, Schiele did serve in World War I, first escorting Russian prisoners and then as a clerk. He continued to paint throughout this time. In autumn of 1918, Edith, who was six months pregnant, died of Spanish flu, and Egon died three days later. In addition to his trademark figurative paintings, Schiele also did a number of intense landscapes.

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218 | Seated Woman with Bent Knee (Sitzende Frau mit hochgezogenem Knie), 1917

Egon Schiele

*1890-1918, Austrtia

218 | Seated Woman with Bent Knee (Sitzende Frau mit hochgezogenem Knie), 1917

Gouache, watercolour and black crayon on paper, 46,0 x 30,5 cm
National Gallery in Prague (Národní galerie), Prague, Czech Republic
© Bridgeman Images

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