Egon Schiele, Mother and Daughter
Schiele is an unequalled master of graphic art; Rudolf Leopold once even said that one would have to go back through art history as far as Rembrandt and Dürer in order to find lines drawn with similar assurance and intensity. And indeed, in the ca. 3,000 graphic works by Egon Schiele that have come down to us, every line does seem to have been drawn with such assurance that it almost seems as if Schiele’s pencil just could not go wrong.
This touching composition showing a mother and daughter, done in 1913, was described by Professor Leopold—who possessed an unexcelled ability to reconstruct stroke by stroke the creative process that gave rise to artworks which touched him—as follows:
A suspenseful and at the same time exceptionally unified composition: the dominant diagonal axis of the girl’s elongated body is balanced out by the ponytail, hanging straight downward, and the diagonal line at a roughly opposite angle to the central axis which traces both the forearm of the mother and the right upper arm of the girl. Contributing to this are also the position of the mother’s face, the girl’s head and the outer contour of the left thigh, which runs parallel to her head. The girl’s body and her sharply right-sloping shoulder, as well as the hanging ponytail, are drawn in an extremely impressive fashion. The scarlet red of the mother’s clothing is contrasted by the light skin of the girl, skin which is enlivened with soft red and grey tones. The hair of both the mother and the daughter is painted to be one and the same blond.