Egon Schiele

Egon Schiele

Style: Expressionism

Lived: June 12, 1890 - October 28, 1918 (20th century)

Nationality: Austria


Egon Schiele was born on June 12, 1890 as the son of Marie and Adolph Schiele in Tulln, a small town in Austria.

When Schiele was 15, his father died of syphilis, and he became a ward of his uncle, who, though distressed by Schiele's lack of interest in academic studies, recognised his passion and talent for art. Schiele was accepted into the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts at the age of 16.


Due to various troubles he left the Academy in 1909. However, Schiele was already participating in public exhibitions and was well acquainted with Gustav Klimt, who was both an inspiration and a friend to him throughout his life.

Once free of the constraints of the anachronistic and conservative Academy, Schiele began to explore, through his work, not only the human form, but also human sexuality. At the time, many found the explicitness of his works shocking.

Wally Neuzil, one of Schiele's models, became his close friend and eventually his lover. Together they moved to Neulengbach, 35 km west of Vienna, seeking inspirational surroundings and an inexpensive studio in which to work. Their unconventional lifestyle, however, was not appreciated by the more conservative townspeople. Schiele was imprisoned for 24 days after being falsely accused of seducing a minor. The charge was eventually dropped, but he was found guilty of "disseminating pornographic art" to children.

In 1915, Schiele married Edith Harms, a woman who lived with her parents across the street from his studio. This change necessitated the termination of his 4-year relationship with the faithful Neuzil.

In spite of World War I, Schiele was able to pursue his artistic endeavors. His output was prodigious, his work reflecting the maturity of an artist in full command of his talents. The Vienna Secession Show of 1918, where Schiele exhibited in the main hall and for which he had designed the poster, brought him great success. During the last year of his life he also had successful shows in Zurich, Prague, and Dresden.


At the end of 1918, the influenza epidemic that claimed over 20,000,000 lives worldwide reached Vienna. Edith, who was six months pregnant, succumbed to the disease on October 28, followed three days later by her husband. He was 28 years old. In the few days before the death of his wife, Schiele drew a few sketches of her - they were to be his last works.

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