A Tragedy Life Story: Egon Schiele

Egon Schiele was a significant figure in Austrian Expressionism; his unique artistic style involved the adoption of sculptural distortions and aggressive defiance of traditional beauty standards. His paintings and self-portraits are fiery examinations of their models’ sexuality and psyches and are among the twentieth century’s most extraordinary pieces.

The artist is famous not only for his psychologically and seductively charged masterpieces but also for his fascinating life story. His life was marked by controversy, publicity, and a heartbreaking early death caused by influenza at the age of twenty-eight. This was three days just after her pregnant wife succumbed to the deadly disease. His death came when he was about to achieve the success he sought for his entire life.

Young, Exceptional Artist

Schiele was an incredibly productive and exceptional artist, producing over three thousand drawings during his brief lifetime. He considered drawing his preferred art technique, valuing its immediacy of expression, and created some of the best pieces of drawing in the twentieth century. With its focus on contours, visual marks, and uniformity, his painting work exhibited a style that captured some of the drawing’s core traits.

Gustav Klimt, a mentor, and friend of Schiele, significantly affected his development. While Schiele adopted Klimt’s focus on sensual depictions of the female form (and shared Klimt’s ravenous sexual desire), Schiele’s sometimes terrifying Expressionist style directly opposed his mentor’s Art Nouveau-inspired approach. Klimt preferred a brighter palette and shimmering, patterned surfaces. Some of Egon Schiele paintings include:

Portrait of Gerti Schiele

Egon Schiele – Portrait Of Gerti Schiele

This is one of Egon Schiele’s arts of his younger sister, Gerti, who was the artist’s primary model throughout his early professional years and the closest family member. This early portrait, painted while Gerti was a teenager, displays both the strong stylistic relationship between Schiele’s work and Klimt’s and the transition away from Klimt’s style.

Gerti’s posture is comparable to Klimt’s works, such as the Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer.

Death and the Maiden

Egon Schiele – Death And The Maiden

The female figure, emaciated and torn, clings to the masculine figure of death in this painting by Schiele, one of his most intricate and frightening pieces, while surrounded by a similarly tattered, almost surreal environment.

Like in other compositions, Schiele mixes the personal and the symbolic in this one by focusing on a motif derived from the medieval notion of the Dance of Death, which peaked in German art around the 15th century.

Schiele painted Death and the Maiden shortly after splitting up with his longtime partner Wally Neuzil a few months before getting married to Edith Harms. The picture commemorates the end of his relationship with Neuzil and portrays this split as the demise of real love.

It’s interesting how Klimt’s portraiture, which also positioned his subjects in imaginary circumstances, echoes how Schiele’s figures are virtually devoured by their attire and abstracted backgrounds.

The Old City III (A Town among Greenery)

Even though his work primarily focused on the human form, Schiele was fascinated by land and towns. As a result, a sizable amount of the artist’s output consists of paintings of his birthplace Vienna and the countryside. His 1911 brief stay in Krumau, the hometown of his mother, served as some of the inspiration for this picture.

Although frequently without any presence of people, Schiele’s landscapes have remarkable similarities to his figurative art. However, his propensity to portray his subjects from above in his portraits is one of the most radical aspects of his landscape paintings, which frequently employ a bird’s-eye perspective.

Other defining characteristics of Schiele’s style may also be seen in this painting, notably his use of crisp curves and sharply delineated shapes. In addition, the artist’s use of color and range, which Schiele was not known for, set this piece apart from his portrait work.

Egon Schiele Life Story

Once he returned to Vienna, his career took off despite the threat of World War I. In 1913, he presented his first art exhibition in Munich; the following year, in 1914, he had another in Paris. Then, in 1915, he proposed to Edith Harms, a young woman of high social standing, and wrote to a friend, “I plan on getting married, favorably.”

Wally Neuzil left him after learning of his engagement, despite his hopes for them to be together; Death and the Maiden vividly expresses the pain this lost love caused him.

However, just after four days of his marriage, Schiele was drafted into the military. He was, however, permitted to carry on honing his craft and doing exhibitions wherever he was stationed throughout the remainder of the war, never experiencing any actual battle. Around this period, Schiele created a series of landscape and cityscape paintings inspired by his wartime trips but lacked his exaggerated signature shapes.

Schiele was back in Vienna and got to work by 1917. He and Klimt co-founded the city’s Kunsthalle (Art Hall), a brand-new gallery meant to entice Austrian artists to stay in their native country. The following year, the artist experienced triumph and loss that came in various forms. Klimt, his mentor and friend, died in February from a stroke and pneumonia.

The Vienna Secession hosted its 49th annual show just one month later, devoting the prominent exhibition space to Schiele’s paintings and making it all about Egon Schiele’s art. Unfortunately, the Spanish flu epidemic raged through Europe in October and took the life of Schiele’s wife, Edith, who was six months pregnant. Schiele passed away at the age of twenty-eight, just three days later. Schiele created a series of drawings of his late wife in the three days between their deaths.


Elgon Schiele was a talented young artist who passed away before realizing his potential and completing his career. Despite having a brief life, Egon Schiele created countless works on canvas and paper.

He had a crucial role in shaping the artistic style of early 20th-century Expressionism, which was the use of wavy lines, a typically dismal color scheme, and frequently grim symbolism.

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