Egon Schiele, Self-Portrait with Chinese Lantern Plant, 1912 © Leopold Museum, Vienna, Inv. 454

Egon Schiele, Self-Portrait with Chinese Lantern Plant


The 1912 Self-Portrait with Chinese Lantern Plant is now one of Egon Schiele’s most famous works, one that shows the artist at the height of his artistic prowess. A balanced composition with nothing left to chance, each line has found its continuation or a corresponding counterpart: hair and body mirror each other, trimmed at the horizontal edges of the image, with these dark sections balanced by the bright red-colored lantern fruits. In a further show of balance, Schiele’s head is turned to the right, with his gaze fixed directly toward the observer. The image’s composition is particularly defined by sharp lines and a virtuoso application of color. In this way, the artist presents himself as both fragile and confident at the same time. The work was conceived as a counterpart to his portrait of Wally Neuzil made at the same time, which explains the distinctively asymmetric composition.


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