A century later, a rare youthful canvas by Egon Schiele was rediscovered in Vienna

To finance the restoration and purchase of the painting Leopold Czihaczek at the piano found in private homes, the Leopold Museum in Vienna will auction some of his works in NFT format.

Gone since 1930. Transgressive Expressionism and Art Nouveau, a painting by Egon Schiele (1890-1918), the Austrian artist known for his artistic expression of body nudity, was recently found in private homes in Vienna. It is distinguished for its originality because it was painted when he started when he was only 16, the age at which he became the protégé of Gustav Klimt. Title Leopold Czihaczek at the piano, this work, little known to the general public and the experts, now appears within the walls of the Leopold Museum in Vienna, which plans to restore it in order to exhibit it for a while. Of the artist’s paintings, watercolors and engravings that the museum owns, some will be duplicated in NFT format to raise money to finalize the canvas.

“The lost painting by Schiele was kept in good condition in a private collection”the director of the museum, Hans-Peter Wipplinger, announced in a press release. “The owners of the work have agreed to make the painting available on permanent loan to the Leopold Museum”he explained, which will enrich the largest collection in the world of the works of Egon Schiele, who has 42 paintings and 184 watercolors. “After the cleaning and restoration of the painting, we want to make it accessible to the public as part of our permanent presentation on the city of Vienna in the XXand century”he concluded about the oil on canvas, one of the 300 paintings and 3000 works on paper the painter made before his death, aged just 28, from the Spanish flu.

Leopold Czihaczek, uncle and guardian of Egon Schiele

This youthful canvas depicts Leopold Czihaczek, who became his uncle and legal guardian since the untimely death of his parents, playing the piano in his apartment in Vienna’s Leopoldstadt district. The painting marks the beginning of a series of paintings depicting his uncle, married to one of his father’s sisters, all produced between 1907 and 1908. That same year, Egon Schiele called on Gustav Klimt, who then oversaw, young artists in the making. The master of the Art Nouveau movement took him under his wing by arranging models for him and introducing him to major clients. For example, early in his work, even when he was still a minor, there are strong similarities with Klimt’s paintings.

“In terms of style, the artist’s brush reveals impressionist tendencies and shows the muted palette characteristic of his early works”explains Verena Gamper, director of the research center of the Leopold Museum in Vienna, in a press release. “In terms of composition, Schiele proposed a differentiation of the sections, sometimes illuminated or shaded, which allowed him to negotiate the exceptionally large horizontal format despite the chosen perspective”she continued before describing an effect of total immersion in the music, thanks to “the pianist’s close-up, the frame of the head shown in profile, the illuminated windows and the resulting focus on the music sheets”. An effect conveyed by the artist by blurring his uncle’s hands, “as if they are separate from the rest of the body”.

A canvas that has been sought after for a hundred years

The Web Leopold Czihaczek at the piano was only known from a few preliminary studies and a first preliminary drawing was found, which indicates on the back “Schiele 17.IV.07”† Later, a 1930 black and white postcard shows a room in which the painting hangs on the wall. It arrived at the museum with the same original stretcher frame, inside which hangs the painting with old nails. It is said to have been sent to Leopold Czihaczek’s wife by one of the couple’s friends named Gustav Huber. And the latter, according to the institution’s press release, would have owned the painting until his death in 1945, when the city was subjected to numerous bombings and then rested in a private residence. An astonishing discretion, as the works of Egon Schiele are sought after and sold at considerable prices, such as the Portrait of Adele Bloch Bauer increased to $140 million in 2006.

The last trace of the painting dates from 1930, when it hangs on the wall in this black and white postcard by Gustav Huber sent to Marie Czihaczek. Leopold Museum, Vienna

Placed under NFT for restoration and acquisition

After the web was rediscovered, the institution decided to turn it into an NFT (non-fungible token). This will be a permanent part of the collection “Timeless reflections. Egon Schiele’s Original NFT Collection», consisting of 23 other works that will be auctioned from 16 to 26 May. The paintings and drawings are classified according to their “scarcity” and will be sold accordingly, for amounts between 500 and 100,000 euros. Among these, the famous Self-portrait with Chinese lantern painted by the Austrian artist in 1912 as well as the canvas dead mother dated 1910. Some have been offered for sale since May 2, such as the painting Female nude with arms raised from 1910 and theNude, squatting self-portrait made by the artist in 1916.

In agreement with the family, this conversion to NFT format will allow the canvas to be restored thanks to the funds raised and then exhibited in the collection of Schiele’s works at the Leopold Museum in Vienna. The Austrian institution has also announced that with the money raised it will eventually be able to buy the canvas Leopold Czihaczek at the piano, to include it permanently in the collection of works by Egon Schiele. These paintings will also be shown to the public in a digital exhibit at White Space Chelsea during Frieze New York, May 18-22.

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