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In contrast to the artist's customary rather raw and explicit rendition of nude figures, this female nude seems almost demure. The pose and facial expression is more defensive and shy than in his other, bolder pieces.
Egon Schiele's seated female nude is a charming picture. The artist produced hundreds of nude studies throughout his short life, many of them were pretty explicit and provoked disapproval and cries of scandal. His approach to nudity concealed nothing; a BBC report about his work speaks of "unflinching art" which tended to show rather than imply. He hardly ever portrayed graceful nude bodies like this seated female nude, most of them were curiously distorted and uncomfortable. His models, or his interpretation of his models, presented angular, knobbly bodies in angular, knobbly poses. Evidently, he liked to challenge rather than please the viewer.
All these considerations make this lovely seated female nude all the more interesting, as it is in counter-tendency to the artist's usual style. The lines of the body are harmonious, the flesh tones are close to natural, the pose is composed. The model is Egon's sister, Gertrude, who he frequently got to pose for him. Here, although nude, there is nothing provocative. She is sitting demurely, intent on fixing her hair. Strangely, although it is a nude study with very similar flesh and hair tones, it is a colourful picture. Shades of colour on her legs, stomach and face enhance and enchant, adding a point of interest that holds the attention.
Currently displayed in Vienna, the original picture, Seated Female Nude with Raised Right Arm (Gertrude Schiele), black crayon, gouache and watercolour, 45x31 cms, dates from 1910, the same year Schiele painted the portrait of his friend and mentor Arthur Roessler. In 2014, it was part of an exhibition of Egon Schiele's work at London's Courtauld Gallery, an exhibition that featured over thirty of Schiele's nude studies. The Austrian city of Vienna, in which the artist's career first took off, remains the best location in which to discover original paintings and drawings from his oeuvre, with most to be found in the Leopold Museum, but further artworks displayed elsewhere in some of the city's other galleries and museums. In all, there are well over two hundred items to be found across the city, most of which remain in public displays which allows the city to tell the story of one of its finest ever artists.