Fierce, arrogant and scared: Selbstporträt by Egon Schiele

 
Prostitutes, naked children, masturbating women, not quite the art you show to your mother-in-law. These subjects are still as provocative now as they were at the beginning of the 20th century when they were depicted by one of the greatest artists of all times: Egon Schiele.
Schiele depictes his subjects with twisted, tormented body shapes and expressive, powerful lines, marking him an early exponent of expressionism. Once you have seen one of his drawings or painting, you will recognize his style from afar. Their powerful presence together with the tragic life story of their creator, will make them haunt you in the most beautiful way, at least that what they did with me. In fact, when I come home or when I wake up, his face is the first thing I see.
Egon Schiele’s “ Selbstporträt” came into my life with quite a detour. I was looking at an online auction for something, I forgot what, when I discovered this piece. I was able to bid on it and by a stroke of luck I won! There was only one minor problem: I was in New York at that time and not able to pick it up or to receive the package. Far away from home, I arranged it to be delivered at my parents home. Timediffrence and busy schedules delayed my acquaintance with Schiele even further. Then finally I was able to have a Skype meeting with my parents. The moment of truth: they had to open the package, with me watching form the other side of the ocean. Long live modern technology!
Altough I still couldn’t see it in real life, judging at my parents faces unwrapping  the sculpture, it was a good buy. But that was it, I still had to wait for several weeks in order to see it for my self. And when I saw it, I was deeply impressed. The work is remarkably powerful: the hasty modeling gives it an tangible introspection. The angular face is slightly lifted so his open eyes can look straight at you, his mouth slightly parted.
Depending on the angle of view, his expression changes. Ranging from fierce, arrogant, scared to patient. The latter makes me think he knew his future and he was peace with that. One year after he created the model for this sculpture, his wife Edith died, six months pregnant Schiele died only three days after his wife. He was 28 years old.
Selbstporträt is a cast in bronze after a earthenware model Egon Schiele (austrian, 1890-1918) conceived in 1917. In 1956  there was a first posthumously cast in bronze by Guss Schmäke Dusseldorf with only 6 examples. This particular work is in bronze with patina is cast by the Collectors’ Club, Vienna,  in 1980 in an edition of 300 + XXX h.c. It is cast by the Italian foundry Venturi Arte in Bologna. It bears the Egon Schiele Estate foundry stamp, numbered edition …/300 and dated Copyright symbol 1980. It measures 11.1 × 6.6 × 9.0 inches. The work is published in the Catalogue Raisonnée, Kallir 4F.

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