Egon Schiele

Seated couple (Schiele and his wife)


Kallir D 1856. Literature: Egon Schiele, Mizue Japanese Art Magazine, no. 870, 1977; Nebehay, Christian, Egon Schiele. Von der Skizze zum Bild, die Skizzenbücher, Vienna et. al. 1989, with ill.156. Exhibitions: Von Schiele bis Leherb Galerie 10, Vienna (ca. 1970), with ill. Egon Schiele and the Human Form: Drawings and Watercolors, Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines/Iowa et. al. 1971/72, cat. no.52; Egon Schiele, Haus der Kunst, Munich 1975, cat. no.237;Egon Schiele, Seibu Museum of Art,Tokyo 1979, cat. no.56; Egon Schiele: An Exhibition of Watercolors and Drawings, Marlborough Fine Art, London 1979, cat. no.44; Egon Schiele: Zeichnungen und Aquarelle aus den Beständen des Historischen Museums der Stadt Vienna und aus amerikanischem Privatbesitz, ausgewählt von Serge Sabarsky, Historisches Museum der Stadt Vienna, Vienna et. al. 1981/82, cat. no.92; Egon Schiele, Pinacoteca Capitolina, Rome et. al. 1984, cat. no.152; Traum und Wirklichkeit: Vienna 1870-1930, Künstlerhaus Vienna, 1985, cat. no.15.8.39; Egon Schiele (1890-1918). Drawings and Watercolors, Serge Sabarsky Gallery, New York 1986, cat. no.17;Egon Schiele: 100 Zeichnungen und Aquarelle, Rosenheim et. al. 1988-1997, cat. no.81/82/83; Egon Schiele, Fondation Pierre Gianadda, Martigny 1995, cat. no.109; Schiele: Drawings and Watercolors, The Serge Sabarsky Foundation, New York 1996 (Memorial Service); Hommage à Serge Sabarsky. Klimt. Kokoschka. Schiele. Aquarelle und Zeichnungen, Jahrhunderthalle Hoechst, Frankfurt/Main 1997, cat. no.83;Egon Schiele 1890-1918, Man Museo d’Arte Provincia di Nuoro, Nuoro 2007/08;Galerie St. Etienne, New York 2017; Shepherd W & K Galleries, New York 2022/23. Provenance: The artist’s estate, with stamp on the reverse; collection of/estate of Serge Sabarsky, New York, acquired from the aforementioned in 1991; collection of/Foundation Vally Sabarsky, New York.


• Intimate yet tense double portrait of the artist and his young wife Edith
• Created in 1915, the year of their marriage, presumably subsequently dated to 1916
• The motif of a couple embracing is among the most important subjects in Schiele’s extensive oeuvre Schiele depicts himself using his characteristically lively, nervous lines.

Wearing only a shirt and socks, he sits awkwardly on the floor. Schiele’s right arm hangs at an unnatural angle at his side, the entire posture appears unstable and uncomfortable. A woman with her hair in a bun crouches behind him; she appears to be supporting his body. This is not a depiction of a couple in love, but rather shows Schiele’s helplessness and dependence on the woman behind him. In this drawing, the artist illustrates with his relationship with Edith Harms. It began on Hietzinger Hauptstrasse in Vienna – Egon Schiele had his studio in the house at number 101. In 1913, Johann Harms, an engineer for the Austrian Railways, moved into the building opposite with his family. Schiele was able to look into the Harms’ apartment from his studio window and the two daughters, Adele and Edith, aged 23 and 20, aroused his interest. To get the girls’ attention, he waved his drawings out of the window and made bizarre, provocative gestures. The young women ignored the artist, who scared them off with his rude behavior and Viennese dialect. Only through the intervention of Wally, Schiele’s former lover, did the artist manage to persuade the young women to meet in secret in 1914. He began to court both sisters, drawing both of them, but he ultimately chose the quieter, younger daughter Edith. The depth and seriousness of the relationship scared Schiele. The double portraits from this period show how he saw himself as a puppet, a plaything for his wife’s feelings. In a gouache from the Albertina collection, which is closely related to our drawing, Edith hugs her fiancé as he hangs in her arms, like a helpless puppet. In both drawings, the artist depicts himself half-naked, while his wife remains clothed and therefore appears less vulnerable. Here Schiele succeeds in examining the complexity of life as a couple. The drawings were his attempt to find his way into a mature relationship and accept emotional dependence. Schiele married Edith in 1915, shortly before he was called up for military service.

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