Station of Tulln

Egon Schiele

Egon Leo Adolf Ludwig Schiele was an Austrian Expressionist painter. Together with Gustav Klimt and Oskar Kokoschka the exceptional artist born in Tulln is seen as one of the most important visual artists of Viennese Modernism.

Schiele’s early years


On 12 June of this year Egon Schiele is born in the provincial town of Tulln as the third child of the head official of the Royal Imperial State railway Adolf Eugen Schiele and his wife Marie Schiele.

He is baptized as Egon Leo Adolf. Egon Schiele had already two older sisters, Elvira who was born in 1883 but died when ten years old, and Melanie who was born in 1886. The youngest child, Gertrude, was born in 1894.  She often modelled for him during his early years as an artist, also for nude drawings.

1890 - 1905

While attending elementary school Egon Schiele already makes drawings – mostly from the railway station of Tulln and the trains that are ranked there. 

At the age of ten Schiele attends secondary school in Krems. Because of bad school results his father sends him in the autumn of 1902 to the Landes-Real- und Obergymnasium in Klosterneuburg. The teachers soon complain that Egon disturbs the lessons with his drawing. The learning results are low but his art teacher Ludwig Karl Strauch soon recognised his artistic talent and encouraged it.

As the health of his father gets worse and he finally can no longer fulfil his post, the family Schiele also moves to Klosterneuburg. Adolf Schiele dies on New Year’s Day 1905, most likely due to progressive paralysis.


His uncle and godfather, the engineer Leopold Czihaczek, who is married to a sister of his father, is named as his guardian. Both his father and Leopold Czihaczek wanted Schiele to study at the technical college.

The poor learning results urge Schieles mother however to turn to one of her sisters whose husband has a chemical graphics company. In a letter from 9th June 1906 Marie Schiele however receives a flat refusal. A visit to the School of Applied Arts in Vienna is considered.

The drawings that Schiele presents at the School of Applied Arts are considered so good that he is recommended to visit the Academy of Fine Arts. After Schiele successfully passed the entrance examination his guardian’s concerns also disappear and on 13th October 1906 he telegraphed pleased his wife: “Egon brilliantly through.”

First successes


Schiele embarks with great enthusiasm on his new task. The relationship with his teacher Griepenkerl, who is still a follower of the so-called historicist “Ringstraßenstil” or “ring way style”, however soon gets clouded.

As early as this year Schiele looks to personally acquaint Gustav Klimt who unselfishly and noble encouraged young artists like Schiele.

Schiele travels with his younger sister Gertrude to Trieste where he makes multiple studies of the harbour district. These pictures show that Schiele matured into a painter outside of the academy and clearly prove the influence of Secessionism.


Schiele for the first time can take part in an exhibition with famous painters from Klosterneuburg. Amongst which Max Kahrer, who became a father figure, brought him closer to using colour and probably also introduced him to the art of the Secession.


Schiele already shows four works in the “International Art Show 1909” with Gustav Klimt as president of the exhibition committee. Schiele also gets to know the architect Josef Hoffmann on this occasion and a little later gets in touch with the “Wiener Werkstätte” (Vienna Workshop).

Schiele leaves the academy in April together with like-minded dissatisfied fellow students after fierce conflicts with Prof. Griepenkerl and starts the “Neukunstgruppe” (New Art Group).

This group includes amongst others Anton Faistauer, Rudolf Kalvach, Franz Wiegele, Hans Ehrlich and the composer Löwenstein as well as the scene painter Erwin Dominik Osen (who temporarily had a considerable influence on Schiele). Hans Böhler and Albert Paris von Gütersloh later also join the group. Schiele is president and secretary. In December, the “Neukunstgruppe” exhibits at the Vienna Salon Pisko.


In the autumn, Schiele exhibits again in the Chorherrenstift Klosterneuburg. The railway official Heinrich Benesch is so much impressed by the image of a sunflower that he decides to visit the artist personally. He would become the most persistent collector of Schiele’s drawings and watercolours. Schiele paints town and landscape pictures in Krumau.


The Neulengbach affaire


Although Schiele already reached artistic independence in 1910, he did not yet get public recognition. Paris von Gütersloh nevertheless writes an essay on Egon in 1911, and Arthur Roessler publishes an illustrated essay on him in the monthly “Bildende Künstler” (Visual Artists). The first collective exhibition takes place from April to May in Vienna.

Egon Schiele moves to Krumau, the hometown of his mother. Shortly before, he gets to know the model Wally Neuzil, who becomes his favourite model and his girlfriend. He starts a free relationship with her and takes her with him to Krumau. A salutary artistic activity starts there. The small-town mentality however soon disapproves of Schiele using young girls from Krumau for his nude studies and living together illegally with Wally. Schiele must leave Krumau and after a short stay with his mother in Vienna, settles down in Neulengbach, near Vienna. But just as in Krumau Schiele stands out as an artist.


On 13th April Schiele is taken into custody in Neulengbach for alleged abduction of a minor and other offenses. 125 erotic drawings are confiscated. On 30th April, he is transferred to the district court in St. Pölten. The main charge of having abducted a minor turns out to be unfounded.  Because children however occasionally see his nude studies in Schiele’s studio, the court decides on the fact of “propagation of immoral drawings”. It condemns Schiele therefore to a three days’ arrest that is however served by the twenty-four-hour pre-trial detention.

All this means a serious shock for Schiele. The period of Neulengbach, one of his most productive, thus comes to an end.

Acquaintance with Edith


Schiele works with the Berlin magazine “Die Aktion” (The Action). This weekly for politics, literature, and art, published by Franz Pfemfert, presents Schiele’s drawings and prose poems from 1913.


In this year, Schiele for the first time can also exhibit outside of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy and Germany, in Rome, Brussels, and Paris. In the spring, Schiele lets himself be introduced to the art of woodcutting and etching by Robert Philippi.

Before the summer, he makes six etchings. He experiments with the photographer Anton Josef Trčka on a series of highly idiosyncratic portraits. Schiele moves into his new studio in Vienna in November. In the opposite house are living at the time the locksmith Johann Harms with his wife and two daughters Adele and Edith.

Schiele is likely to have made the first overtures in January but only gets acquainted with the sisters towards the end of the year.

War and death


Egon Schiele marries Edith Harms four days before he has to leave as a soldier to Prague on 21st June. Before the wedding, Edith insists he separates from Wally which he does. She immediately follows him to Prague. One month later Schiele is transferred to Vienna and can fulfil his military service here and in the vicinity.


Schiele is transferred to Mühling near Wieselburg in May as clerk in the camp for Russian officers who were taken as prisoners of war. During this time, he was not very productive artistically. He nevertheless painted the “Zerfallende Mühle” (Disintegrating Mill). Schiele felt lost, and cut off and constantly tried to be transferred to the Army Museum in Vienna.


Schiele is finally commanded as clerk to Vienna at the “k.k. Konsumanstalt für Gagisten im Felde” (Imperial Royal Consumer Institution for Gagists in the Field), and together with Gütersloh is commissioned to organise the “War Exhibition 1917” in the Prater.


End of April he succeeds to be commanded to the War Museum which at the time was a sanctuary for artists, writers, journalists, and others.

Gustav Klimt dies 6th February. The following day Schiele draws the dead Klimt in the General Hospital three times. Due to the death of Klimt he suddenly is the recognised leading artist of Vienna.

In March the Vienna Secession [S1] offers Schiele and his group their building with Schiele in the main hall. He shows 19 large paintings and 29 partly water coloured drawings. Artistically and materially this exhibition is his first real success.

In 1918, the Spanish flue rages through Europe and parts of Africa, often combined with severe pneumonia. Egon Schiele tries to protect his pregnant wife Edith as much as possible from an infection, but fails. She dies 28th October. Egon Schiele who was already ill himself at the time, is brought to the house of his mother in law in Vienna Hietzing to be looked after. In the early morning of 31st October, he however dies as well from the consequences of the disease. He leaves no heirs.

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