Death and the Maiden is a 1915 painting by Egon Schiele. In the center of the composition, on crumpled white sheets, two are depicted. A girl in bright underwear, kneeling, clings to a man and wraps her arms around him, clinging to her chest. A dark-skinned man in a shapeless brown dress with bony fingers presses her head against him and holds her by the shoulder. They don’t look at each other. Their gazes are empty and full of detachment. The inexpressive surrounding landscape in dirty yellow tones seems surreal, devoid of any breath of life and enhances the feeling of the approaching end.
Author: Egon Schiele (1890-1918).
Year of writing: 1915
Dimensions: 150 x 180 cm.
Style: Expressionism. Symbolism.
Genre: Portrait. Self-portrait.
Location: Belvedere, Vienna, Austria.
Egon Schiele is one of the most significant, scandalous and provocative Austrian artists of the early 20th century.
An incorrigible ladies’ man who was always looking for inspiration in the arms of women, he nevertheless carried through his whole life a sincere affection for Wally Neuzil – a young model, muse and the artist’s first love, with whom he lasted for four years.
After a series of scandals related to child molestation and the dissemination of pornographic drawings (most of the artist’s works are made in the nude style), Schiele is trying to build a family, live like an ordinary normal person. He can’t do it.
Schiele does not marry her model, whose social status was too low at that time. Edith Harms becomes his chosen one – the most ordinary girl from a poor, but respectable family. However, life with her does not seem attractive to the young artist, and he offers both girls a love triangle: one is the role of a wife, the other is a lover. Wally Neuzil refused.
Painting “Death and the Maiden” by Egon Schiele – a love story of an Austrian artist
And Egon Schiele expressed his emotions and separation from his beloved in the painting “Death and the Maiden”, the original name of which was “Man and Girl”. Mastering the brush, he gives the characters of the work a dominant meaning.
To make objects more intense, highlights the outline lines. The artist shows separation from his beloved with an unhealthy gray skin tone, personifying death. Schiele applies shades of red, green and blue to the girl’s face and legs. And to enhance the effect of surrealism, it uses soft lighting and the absence of obvious shadows.
The painting “Death and the Maiden” by Egon Schiele got its real name in 1917, after the death of Wally Neuzil. A year later, she became prophetic for the artist himself, who passed away at a young age. Only the symbolic scene depicted on the canvas survived and became the basis for many literary and cinematic works, in particular, the film of the same name, which was released in 2016.