Inventory Number SCE026
Size 23" h x 16.5" w
Country of Origin Austria
Year Made 1920
Verlag Ed. Strache, Publisher
15 collotypes in a limited edition of 500
Handzeichnungen was published two years after Schiele's death, yet it is in one respect a technical advance over the Zeichnungen portfolio. The inclusion of multicolor collotypes increased difficulty of production, but indicated a desire to fully capture the beauty of Schiele's watercolor and gouache paintings. Monochrome prints of nude models express a greater concern for compositional experimentation than for erotic titillation. Yet the portfolio exhibits the internal contradictions of Schiele's personality, most evidently through portraits of his wife Edith and her sister Adele.
Appropriately, the first print is a self portrait, in which Schiele addresses his audience with a bold, confident expression. Although the publisher probably determined the order of the prints, the self-portrait establishes Schiele's primacy as the creative force behind the portfolio. Prints like Seated Female Nude with Orange Drapery and Kneeling Female Semi Nude still manifest Schiele's drive to sexualize his models, but this tendency gives way to a greater concern for unusual poses and points of view in most of the female nudes. In addition, the restrained delicacy of Young Woman's Head provides surprising insight into Schiele's artistic range.
From a biographical standpoint, the portraits of Edith and Adele Harms are of particular interest, since they betray the tensions that plagued Schiele's relationship with his wife. In Portrait of Frau Edith Schiele, the artist portrays his wife's eeriness and depression with startling frankness. In contrast, Portrait of Adele Harms depicts Schiele's sister-in-law like many of his professional models: Adele’s skimpy outfit, black stockings and provocative pose firmly place her within the body of Schiele's erotic female figure studies. The fact that Schiele simultaneously courted both sisters in 1915 before marrying the more conventionally attractive Edith is well known. Adele's willingness to pose like a model-prostitute for Schiele as late as 1917 implies a disturbing ongoing connection between them. Although there is no evidence that Schiele and Adele Harms were ever lovers, sexualizing her in his art undoubtedly contributed to Edith’s unhappiness. Despite Schiele's determination to assume the role of a mature artist and husband, the portrait of Adele Harms betrays his refusal to conform to middle class standards of appropriate behavior. This personal conflict is stunningly revealed in Handzeichnungen, and is one of the most compelling aspects of the portfolio.