In this work, Schiele appears to give a glimpse into an interior and private world. The woman clothed in red underwear, whose face is barely glimpsed through the angular crook of the standing figure's arm, bears a close similarity to bohemian dancer Moa, an extraordinary and smouldering beauty whom Schiele frequently used as a model around this time. By pairing her with another lithe, dark haired model, clad only in stockings, Schiele creates a dramatically posed and erotically suggestive image that suggests they are about to enter into an intimate embrace. Unlike other of his more provocative and explicit works depicting coupled women, in this gouache, it is the hint of physical contact - the fact that it is an idea seemingly born only in the viewer's mind - that lends the work much of its mystery and power.
For Schiele, sexuality lay at the heart of all unconscious and instinctual drives, believing that all humans are at the mercy of their inner nature and its physical impulses. With an intensity that bordered on the fanatical, Schiele studied the physical manifestations of these impulses through an artistic exploration of the human body, transgressing societal norms to liberate sexuality from proscribed stereotypes. The lack of inhibition Schiele encouraged in his models and the nearness of their forms reveal he was not a detached or indifferent observer, but was passionately involved with his subjects. By stripping away the veneer of conservatism in fin-de-siècle Vienna, Schiele exposed the latent erotic charge that was exacerbated by this culture's strict moral codes. Although this was a period in which love, eroticism and sexuality were thought of as strictly private matters, Viennese society was also inherently hypocritical. Class disparity meant the city was rife with prostitution and had a booming pornographic industry, with cheap photographs and titillating literature being peddled by children in every café. As a consequence of this dual existence of repressive social mores and irrepressible primal urges, many of Schiele's contemporaries focussed on themes of sexuality, including Sigmund Freud, who defined sexual desire as the prime motivational energy of human life, and who analysed the effects of suppressing these natural impulses. Although there is no evidence that Schiele was informed by Freud's theories, it is clear that he was part of a zeitgeist that sought to lay bare an underlying animalistic sex-drive.
Schiele found in the female form the ultimate mode of conveying these devouring, irresistible physical forces. His developing style, and the focus of his subject matter was, in part, inspired by Toulouse-Lautrec, a painter whose work he first saw in 1909. Schiele's masterly use of pencil, watercolour and gouache finds its origins in the French artist's work, but it was his study of the sexual underworld that left the most lasting effect on the young painter. Otto Benesch, son of one of his earliest patrons, acknowledged that Toulouse-Lautrec had 'made an enormous impression on Schiele through his mercilessly bitter representation, through his investigation of the female psyche' (O. Benesch, quoted in F. Whitford, Egon Schiele, London, 1981, p. 60). The taboo subject of lesbian love was a theme that Toulouse-Lautrec had visited in his own art, and would also provide Schiele with another aspect with which to explore human sexuality.
With their bruised colouring and waif-like forms, the figures in Liegende Frau mit roter Hose und stehender weiblicher Akt indicate the vulnerability and perishability of human flesh, suggesting that the desire for love is tainted by the consciousness of our own mortality. Like so many of Schiele's erotic works, this gouache shows the human being ultimately to be an impoverished and isolated creature, trapped alone in its body and in desperate need of physical contact and communion with others. 'In spite of his 'eroticism', Schiele was not depraved', wrote his friend and mentor Arthur Roessler, 'His friends did not know him as a 'practising' eroticist... What drove him to depict erotic scenes from time to time was perhaps the mystery of sex... and the fear of loneliness which grew to terrifying proportions. The feeling of loneliness, for him a loneliness that was totally chilling, was in him from childhood onwards - in spite of his family, in spite of his gaiety when he was among friends' (A. Roessler, quoted in F. Whitford, Egon Schiele, London, 1981, p. 89).
Liegende Frau mit roter Hose und stehender weiblicher Akt
Gouache, watercolour and pencil on paper
SOLD TO BENEFIT THE NEUE GALERIE NEW YORK
Signed and dated 'Egon Schiele 1912' (lower right)
Drawings & Watercolors
Vienna, Graphische Sammlung Albertina, Egon Schiele: Gedächtnisausstellung, autumn 1948, no. 128.
Des Moines, Art Center, Egon Schiele and the Human Form: Drawings and Watercolours, September - October 1971, no. 29 (illustrated); this exhibition later travelled to Columbus, Gallery of Fine Arts, November - December 1971 and Chicago, Art Institute, January - February 1972.
Munich, Haus der Kunst, Egon Schiele, February - March 1975, no. 162 (illustrated).
Tokyo, The Seibu Museum of Art, Egon Schiele, April - June 1979, no. 32 (illustrated).
London, Marlborough Fine Art, Egon Schiele: An Exhibition of Watercolours and Drawings, June - August 1979, no. 26 (illustrated). Vienna, Historisches Museum der Stadt, Egon Schiele: Zeichnungen und Aquarelle, September - November 1981, no. 50 (illustrated); this exhibition later travelled to Linz, Neue Galerie der Stadt, November 1981 - January 1982; Munich, Museum Villa Stuck, Spring 1982 and Hanover, Kestner-Gesellschaft, April - June 1982.
Vienna, Akademie der bildenden Künste, Egon Schiele, vom Schüler zum Meister: Zeichnungen und Aquarelle 1906-1918, January - March 1984, no. 65; this exhibition later travelled to Milan, Accademia di Belle Arti de Brera, March - May 1984; Palermo, Villa Zito, February - April 1985; Tel Aviv, Museum, April - May 1985; Hamburg, Kunsthalle, May - July 1985; Salzburg, Rupertinum, July - September 1985; Graz, Schloss Plankenwirth, October - November 1985; Innsbruck, Tiroler Landesmuseum Ferdinandeum, January - February 1986; Bottrop, Josef Albers Museum, February - April 1986; Nuremberg, Kunsthalle, April - June 1986; Halbturn, Schloss Halbturn, May - August 1987 and Emden, Kunsthalle, March - May 1988.
New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Vienna 1900: Art, Architecture & Design, July - October 1986, no. 98.
Charleroi, Palais de Beaux Arts, Egon Schiele, September - December 1987, no. 66 (illustrated).
Rosenheim, Städtische Galerie Rosenheim, Egon Schiele: 100 Zeichnungen und Aquarelle, May - June 1988, no. 51; this exhibition later travelled to Florence, Palazzo Strozzi, June - August 1988; Herford, Kunstverein im Daniel-Pöppelmann-Haus, September - October 1988; Leverkusen, Erholungshaus der Bayer A.G., October - November 1988; Hoechst/Frankfurt, Jahrhunderthalle, November 1988 - January 1989; Bari, Castello Svevo, January - March 1989; Genoa, Museo Villa Croce, April - June 1989; Roslyn, Nassau County Museum of Art, January - April 1990; Linz, Oberösterreichisches Landesmuseum, September - December 1990; Milan, Palazzo della Permanente, May - June 1991, no. 11; Bietigheim-Bissingen, Städtische Galerie, July - September 1991; Berlin, Käthe-Kollwitzs-Museum, October 1991 - March 1992; Passau, Museum moderner Kunst, March - May 1992; Ulm, Museum, June - August 1992; Prague, Palais Wallenstein, October - November 1992; Paris, Musée-Galerie de la Seita, December 1992 - February 1993; Vienna, BAWAG Foundation, March - May 1993; Aix-en-Provence, Musée Granet, June - August 1993; Albi, Musée Toulouse-Lautrec, October - December 1993; Lisbon, Culturgest, December - February 1994 and Aschaffengurg, Stadt Aschaffenberg/Galerie Jesuitenkirche, April - June 1994.
Martigny, Fondation Pierre Gianadda, Egon Schiele, February - May 1995, no. 79.
Rouen, Fondation Pierre Gianadda, Klimt, Schiele, Kokoschka, May - August 1995, no. 142.
Bad Frankenhausen, Panorama Museum, Egon Schiele: 100 Zeichnungen und Aquarelle, November - February 1996, no. 54; this exhibition later travelled to New York, The Serge Sabarsky Foundation, June 1996; Klagenfurt, Städtische Galerie Klagenfurt, July - September 1996; Cracow, International Culture Centre, December 1996 - January 1997 and Llubljana, Cankarjev Dom, Fine Art Gallery, April - June 1997.
Frankfurt, Jahrhunderthalle Hoechst, Hommage à Serge Sabarsky, Klimt, Kokoschka, Schiele, Aquarelle und Zeichnungen, October - November 1997, no. 71.
New York, Neue Galerie, Egon Schiele: The Ronald S. Lauder and Serge Sabarsky collections, October 2005 - February 2006, no. D92, p. 412 (illustrated pp. 45 and 260, and on the back cover).
IMPRESSIONIST & MODERN ART
17¾ x 12½ (45.2 x 31.6 cm.)
S. Sabarsky, Egon Schiele: Disegni Erotici, Milan, 1981 (illustrated pl. 13).
H. Werner, 'Egon Schiele: Alles ist lebend tot', in Art: Das Kunstmagazin, October 1987, p. 39.
Exh. cat., Hôtel de Ville, Salle Saint-Jean, Paris, Gustav Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka, Egon Schiele: Dessins et Aquarelles, June - August 1984, no. 74 (illustrated).
S. Sabarsky, Zeichnungen und Aquarelle des deutschen Expressionsmus, Stuttgart, 1990 (illustrated).
Exh. cat., Egon Schiele, Mezinárodní kulturní centrum Egona Schieleho, Cesky Krumlov, November - October 1997, pp. 136-137 (illustrated).
J. Kallir, Egon Schiele: The Complete Works, London, 1998, no. 1065, p. 471 (illustrated p. 470).
Otto Benesch, Vienna.
Anonymous sale, Kornfeld & Klipstein, Bern, 9-11 June 1966, lot 973.
Serge Sabarsky, New York.
Gift from the above to the present owner.