Arthur Roessler, born in Vienna in 1877, was an editor, a writer, an art consultant, art historian and art critic. He was a talent-scout of his day. He was quick to see artistic potential and was happy to encourage and sponsor young talent, in particular the somewhat quirky and provocative art of Egon Schiele. Schiele's portrait of his friend Arthur Roessler dates from 1910. This intriguing picture, 99cm x 99cm, oil on canvas, currently hangs in the Leopold Museum, Vienna. We see a handsome, distinguished man, well dressed and elegant, sitting in a curious pose with his hands across his body. Those hands are large, long, lean and artistic. Centrally positioned in the picture, they immediately claim the viewer's attention.
The thumbs are not displayed; Schiele considered thumbs to be stumpy and ugly, out of harmony with the rest of the hand. Our attention is then drawn to the uniformity of colour: dominating shades of brown. Even the skin and hair tones blend with the various browns of Roessler's smart suit. His head, in profile, gives an impression of fine intelligence behind the half-closed eyes and the composed expression. In contrast, the knobby, angular body does not express such composure, it looks alert, anxious and uncomfortable. The milky background of creamy-beige whirls directs attention onto the darker central figure; the resulting light/dark contrast almost creates a 3D effect. Egon Schiele was a protégé of Klimt and contributed to the development of the Expressionist movement in Austria. In 1909, he founded the "New Art Group" and arranged an exhibition. Through this he met Arthur Roessler who became his sponsor and remained his friend.
This painting can be found within the Leopold Museum within Vienna, a city in which the artist made his name so many years ago. They own a huge selection of work from his career, including a good variety of different periods of his career. Many notable portraits can be found here and they also have drawings and watercolours as well. There are also a number of other galleries within the city which have a few more pieces from his career alongside some major artworks dating from the early Renaissance all the way up to the periods of modern art that appeared across the 20th century. There is enough here to fill a full week for the most enthusiastic art lover, and that is even before you start to check out the city's other cultural offerings, such as classical music and architecture.