Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Seated Woman, Back View

Artist:
Egon Schiele (Austrian, Tulln 1890–1918 Vienna)
Date:
1917
Medium:
Watercolor, gouache, and graphite on paper
Dimensions:
18 1/4 x 11 3/4 in. (46.4 x 29.8 cm)
Classification:
Drawings
Credit Line:
Bequest of Scofield Thayer, 1982
Accession Number:
1984.433.294
Not on view
While living in Vienna from 1921 to 1923, Scofield Thayer presumably bought many, or all, of the thirty drawings in his collection by the Austrian Expressionist painter Egon Schiele, whose work was virtually unknown in the United States at the time.


Schiele's career was short, intense, and amazingly productive. Before succumbing to influenza in 1918 at the age of twenty-eight, he created more than three hundred oil paintings and several thousand works on paper. The human figure provided Schiele with his most potent subject matter for both paintings and drawings.


The psychological intensity of Schiele's self-portraits is rarely encountered in his numerous studies of young women — many nude or provocatively dressed — who are treated in a detached manner as objects for formal analysis. Often isolated on a page, without any reference to their surroundings, these figures are exquisite studies in line, composition, and gesture. This portrait of a seated woman viewed from behind is expressive even though her face is hidden. The model was likely Schiele's wife, Edith Harms, then twenty-four, whom he married in 1915 and who died of influenza only three days before he did. Only partially dressed but with her strawberry-blond hair carefully coiffed, the figure wears a bright blue striped jacket over a white striped shirt — the attire of a respectable lady. Her lower body, however, is clad in the garments in which Schiele usually depicted prostitutes — a white lace slip and dark stockings. The marked difference between the two parts of her costume seems to reflect the artist's own ambivalent feelings about his wife, who is variously shown in his art as a cold virgin or a passionate lover.

Inscription: Signed and dated (lower right): EGON /SCHIELE /1917
[Kunstverlag Wolfrum, Vienna, until ca. 1921; sold ca. 1921, for 7,000 Kr, to Thayer]; Scofield Thayer, Vienna and New York (ca. 1921–d. 1982; on extended loan to the Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, Mass., as part of the Dial Collection, 1939–82; his bequest to MMA)

Worcester Art Museum. "The Dial and the Dial Collection," April 30–September 8, 1959, no. 206.

Worcester Art Museum. "The Dial Revisited," June 29–August 22, 1971, no catalogue.

Worcester Art Museum. "'The Dial': Arts and Letters in the 1920s," March 7–May 10, 1981, no. 130 (as "Seated Woman").

Vienna. Albertina. "Egon Schiele," December 6, 2005–March 19, 2006, no. 200.

Lisa M. Messinger in "Twentieth Century Art." The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Notable Acquisitions, 1984–1985. New York, 1985, p. 50, ill. (color).

Jane Kallir. Egon Schiele. The Complete Works Including a Biography and Catalogue Raisonné. New York, 1990, p. 580, no. 1985.



Related Objects

Reclining Semi-Nude with Arms Raised

Artist: Egon Schiele (Austrian, Tulln 1890–1918 Vienna) Date: 1914 Medium: Graphite on paper Accession: 1984.433.305 On view in:Not on view

Seated Woman in Corset and Boots

Artist: Egon Schiele (Austrian, Tulln 1890–1918 Vienna) Date: 1918 Medium: Crayon on paper Accession: 1984.433.300 On view in:Not on view

Reclining Woman with Raised Skirt

Artist: Egon Schiele (Austrian, Tulln 1890–1918 Vienna) Date: 1918 Medium: Charcoal on paper Accession: 1984.433.301 On view in:Not on view

Landscape with Houses

Artist: Egon Schiele (Austrian, Tulln 1890–1918 Vienna) Date: 1917 Medium: Charcoal on paper Accession: 1984.433.302 On view in:Not on view

Woman Buttoning Her Shoes

Artist: Egon Schiele (Austrian, Tulln 1890–1918 Vienna) Date: 1915 Medium: Charcoal on paper Accession: 1984.433.304a, b On view in:Not on view