What did Gustav Klimt envy about Egon Schiele? Where was Schiele born and what connected him to Krumlov in the Czech Republic? What were the issues that preoccupied him? When and how did he die? Where is he buried?
Born Egon Leo Adolf Ludwig Schiele on June 12, 1890 in Tulln an der Donau as the son of a stationmaster, he became one of the most important Expressionist painters. He had three sisters and his mother came from Krumlov in southern Bohemia . As a result, he also liked to spend time there. He had a close relationship with his youngest sister, Gertie , as she modeled for him when he was painting in his early days.
The father died of syphillis when Egon was 15 years old. Thus his godfather and uncle Leopold Czihaczek became his guardian and patron. When he started drawing, it was initially railroads, which is hardly surprising since he grew up at the Tulln train station.
At the age of 16 he was already accepted at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna , but the stiff daily routine under Professor Christian Griepenkerl did not suit him, so he left the Academy after two years and founded his own Neukunstgruppe . He was enthusiastic about Gustav Klimt and it came in 1907 to a first personal meetings. Klimt became his fatherly friend and mentor . He was also able to convince the art critic Arthur Roessler of his talent. Influenced by Max Oppenheimer, he turned more away from Art Nouveau and toward Expressionism .
Schiele’s themes were sexuality and death, which he expressed with colors in his paintings. Klimt once said that he envied the way he portrayed this expression in people’s eyes in his paintings. From Klimt he took over his muse – Wally Neuzil. This became the model and mistress of Schiele. He moved to Krumlov with her and they lived there in a wild marriage. The visits of children to Schiele’s studio were also not considered good. Thus the two moved to Neulengbach, where Schiele briefly ended up in prison for indecent drawings of minors.
His bad reputation preceded him, but back in Vienna, Gustav Klimt helped him make contacts with collectors and gallery owners, such as the industrialist August Lederer . Schiele enjoyed great success. In 1912 he moved into a new studio in Hietzinger Hauptstraße, where he lived until his death in 1918.
The First World War meant that Schiele was drafted for military service . Before he was transferred to Prague , he married the bourgeois Edith Harms, who lived with her sister Adele across the street from the studio. He wanted to keep his mistress Wally Neuzil , but both women were against the love triangle . Wally then went to the front as a first responder, where she died of scarlet fever.
Schiele returned to Vienna in 1917, where he became a clerk and was able to draw on the side. When Gustav Klimt died on February 6, 1918, Egon Schiele drew some pictures of the dead . In 1918 Schiele’s career rose sharply. The 49 exhibition of the Vienna Secession was dedicated to him.
He exhibited today famous paintings such as “Edith Schiele sitting” or “Crouching human couple (the family) and other paintings and drawings. His star was rising and he was making a name for himself. In the fall of 1918, Egon Schiele, like many, fell ill with the Spanish flu and died of the pandemic on October 31, 1918, at the age of only 28 . His wife Edith, 6 months pregnant, died three days before him. Both were laid to rest in an honorary dedicated grave at the Upper St. Vitus Cemetery.
Today, Schiele’s paintings are coveted worldwide and fetch top prices at auctions. To give an example: Sotheby’s auctioned “Houses with colorful linen” for about 27.6 million euros in 2011. His works include many female nudes, self-portraits, but also landscape paintings . The world’s largest Schiele collection is in the Leopold Museum, but you can also meet Schiele in the Belvedere and the Albertina.
Time Travel Tip
: A visit to Schiele’s birthplace Tulln is highly recommended. Tulln can be reached by train from Vienna in 20 minutes, directly at the main train station you will find the house where Egon was born and a special path in Egon’s footsteps leads you through the city to the Schiele Museum on Donaulände.