Egon Schiele Museum: Portrait of Wally Neuzil
Portrait of Wally Neuzil, 1912, © Leopold Museum, Vienna, inv. 453

Egon Schiele Museum: ‘Life And Death’ At The Leopold Collection

Egon Schiele Museum Vienna: Leopold MuseumQuite dramatically, the Leopold Museum, aka Egon Schiele Museum in Vienna, throws you head first into Vienna 1900’s haunted soul. To fully grasp the Fin-de-Siècle in Wien Schiele’s artwork is key.

In general, Schiele was not an eye pleaser but a radical Expressionist. I only understood that after visiting the Leopold Museum which houses the world’s largest collection of Schiele art. 

Egon Schiele Biography In Brief

Egon Schiele Museum. In brief, Egon Schiele was an Austrian painter and poet, born in Lower Austria in 1890. While he studied at Vienna’s Academy of Fine Art he soon rejected classic styles. From a personal view, Schiele was introverted.  Rather than idealising beings and objects he wanted to express inner lives:

Egon Schiele Museum: letter to Franz Hauer

Egon Schiele Museum. In his early years Gustav Klimt inspired Schiele. Most of all, they shared a love for lines, flat images, and portraying women.

Egon Schiele Museum: Reclining WomanIn contrast to Klimt, Schiele’s later works were much more psychological and provocative. At the time, he often overstepped the mark of social acceptance. Particularly shocking was his use of very young models, and his ‘pornographic’ paintings. At 22 years of age, Schiele was charged with seduction and abduction of a young girl. Though the charges were subsequently dropped the temporary imprisonment left a deep mark on the artist.

In 1918, Egon Schiele died from the Spanish Flu epidemic at the age of 28, three days after his wife Edith. Before that he had served in a prisoner-of-war camp during World War I. 

Schiele And Vienna 1900

Egon Schiele Museum: photograph of SchieleEgon Schiele Museum. While the Leopold Museum at Vienna’s Museumsquartier exhibits a vast selection of 19th and early 20th century works the Schiele collection represents its highlight. Not only is it the most provocative of all but vital to understanding what was going on in Vienna during that time.

First and foremost, Schiele’s portraits express the raw sides of life, death, rebirth, eroticism, sex and motherhood. For Schiele, the radical clashes and shifts of Fin-de-Siècle Wien were deeply unsettling but also an opportunity to challenge society. He drew mostly nude men and women staring at the viewers, displaying distorted and strangely discoloured body parts. With his more than explicit nude females Schiele caused a particularly vivid outrage.

Egon Schiele Museum: Gustav Klimt installationDuring the same period, Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, developed his ‘libido’ theory. At the time, women were fighting for personal freedom and emancipation. The bourgeoisie wanted to gain more power in politics, economics and society while the Habsburg Emperors were keen to preserve the status quo.

At the Fin de Siècle Vienna was torn between conservative beliefs and modernist ideas. Do visit Vienna 1900 with its Gustav Klimt artwork (photo), and works by Kokoschka, Hoffmann and Moser. Their ideas for the new century were largely different and will help you put Schiele into perspective with other artists of that time.

Best Schiele Artwork at Leopold Museum

Egon Schiele Museum. The Schiele works below are among my personal highlights at the museum. Look at the faces – they express uncertainty, uneasiness, distrust, fear, shame, despair. The landscape painting (Setting Sun) is wistful. Those works reflect that deep impact the shift towards modernism had in Vienna. To be perfectly honest, though, there are many more nudes in explicit actions at the exhibition than fit my personal tastes. But see for yourself.

What adds tremendous vivacity are Schiele’s quotes in between the artwork.  Apart from a few dozen Schieles, you will enjoy amazing vistas of Museumsquartier, Ringstrasse and Hofburg from the museum’s large windows. Not all of the 42 paintings and 187 drawings are exhibited at all times. 

While visiting a regular exhibition I took these photographs . People loved taking pictures of the artwork. The different angles the pictures are taken from are due to different background lightings.

Egon Schiele Museum: self portrait

Self Portrait With Chinese Lantern Plant, 1912

Egon Schiele Museum: Edith In A Striped Dress

Edith In A Striped Dress, Sitting, 1915

Egon Schiele Museum: Landscape

Setting Sun, 1913

Egon Schiele Museum: Mother and Child

Mother and Child, 1912

Egon Schiele Museum: Nude Boy in Gray Shirt

Nude Boy in Gray Shirt (self portrait), 1910


Egon Schiele Museum: Caress (Cardinal and Nun)

Caress (Cardinal and Nun), 1912


Egon Schiele Museum: The Lyricist

The Lyricist, 1911


Egon Schiele Museum: Self Portrait With Lowered Head, 1912

Self Portrait With Lowered Head, 1912



Egon Schiele Museum: Kneeling Woman in a Gray Dress, 1912

Kneeling Woman in a Gray Dress (Wally Neuzil), 1912

Art Collector Rudolf Leopold

Egon Schiele Museum: Elisabeth and Rudolf LeopoldEgon Schiele Museum. Because Rudolf Leopold’s story is so intriguing I am going to share it here. Not least it was Leopold who catapulted Schiele to international fame.

When Leopold (1925 to 2010) was training to be an eye doctor he discovered his passion for art. At his graduation his mother offered him a VW Beetle. He refused and instead bought his first Schiele (‘The Hermits’). He was one of very few collectors to recognise the artist’s exceptional talent at that time.

Over the following decades he collected hundreds of Schiele works and other artwork of key 20th century artists. Rudolf Leopold and his wife Elisabeth (photo) campaigned tirelessly to get Schiele’s genius recognised in the international art world – with success. In 1994, his 5,200 strong collection was gathered into the Leopold Museum – Private Foundation.

Egon Schiele Museum: Practical Info

Location: Leopold Museum is part of Museumsquartier, Museumsplatz 1, 1060 Vienna
Opening Hours: daily, except Tuesdays: 10am to 6pm; Thursdays: 10am to 9pm; closed on 24th December;
Entrance Tickets: Leopold Museum (inc Vienna 1900 and Egon Schiele exhibitions)
Leopold Museum (19th and 20th century art) and Museum of Art History (classical art);
How to Get There: tramway 1 and 2 to Burgring; metro U2 to Museumsquartier;

Egon Schiele Art Center in Cesky Krumlov: Egon Schiele’s mother was born in this quaint Renaissance town in Bohemia. Schiele himself visited the town regularly during his childhood and took up residence there in 1913. Take one of the daily shuttle buses from Vienna to Cesky Krumlov to visit the Art Center.

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