A visit to the Leopold is well worth a trip when next in Vienna, and if you are lucky you’ll see one most riveting exhibitions of paintings by Egon Schiele. The museum has more than 200 works (not all on display) in a square block of rooms with his works hanging, while some were missing. The portrait of Wally I didn’t see it. Schiele was a daring artist who painted all kinds of subjects but his nudes are probably some of his best works along with his portraits.
Sadly in the autumn of 1918, the spanish flu claimed more than 20 million lives in Europe and when it reached Vienna Egon passed away at the early age of 28 years old.
Since his death, the museum has been caught up in some Nazis seizures and some legal battles to follow which has caused them to satisfy families in the international courts.
One notable dispute was over the portrait of Wally his girlfriend, that was stolen by the nazis and the museum later settled with the heirs when the Leopold purchased it for $19 million. In 2013, the museum sold three drawings by Schiele for $25 million at Sotheby’s London in order to settle the restitution claim over its 1914 Schiele painting Houses by the Sea. The museum later sold one of Schiele’s Houses with colorful laundry for $40.1 million at Sotheby’s in 2011.
These unfortunate things happened during the war and today many memories seem buried underneath. I have to say, I appreciated the way Viennese museums display their treasures, and it’s a good example of how much respect the general public have for their institutions works. You can walk up to a painting and see it up close in the raw, rarely you’ll find plastic or glass obstructing your view. That’s incredible.
Categories: Life Cycles