Monday, 30 August 2010

An Austrian Mona Lisa?

Both these paintings are in reality the same size, and they are quite small, perhaps 15" x 10" at a rough guess. They were painted in 1912 by the Austrian artist Egon Schiele. The medium is oil on wood. In reality the backgrounds are the same colour and not as shown in these photographs.

Today the paintings hang, not as I have placed them here, but side by side. He on the left. She on the right. The two subjects are therefore looking towards each other. They are now in the Leopold Museum in Vienna's MQ. And I saw them yesterday.

The name on her baptism record is Walburga Pfneis. Shortly after her birth her parents were officially married and she was given her father's surname and became Walburga Neuzil. Later she became known as Wally (pronounced: Valley).

She was Egon Schiele's muse and lover from 1912 until 1915; but then he decided to marry Edith Harms.

Wally became a nurse and in August 1917 went to work in the Balkans. Before the year was out she had died of scarlet fever.

the Austrian Mona Lisa
reunited with her lover
controversy surrounds

chinese lantern plant

The upper picture was the subject of a recent court case in New York. It appears that Wally was one of thousands of works of art looted by the Nazis during World War II. The painting was subsequently recovered by U S Forces and handed over to the Austrian authorities in 1950.

A long-standing dispute over the ownership of the painting has now been resolved with a payment of an undisclosed sum believed to be in the region of €15 million to the estate of the original owner.

Whether any piece of wood with some paint on it, no matter how well done, can be said to be worth €100,000 per square inch,in a world where miners are working in dangerous and unhealthy conditions risking life and limb for a dollar an hour, is another question.

image: wiki


  1. I actually have a post coming up in which I talk about that very thing only I use Jackson Pollock as my example and then I discuss what the differences are between 'value', 'price', 'worth' and 'cost'. Not sure when I'll post it. I have a heckuva stockpile of articles at the moment.

  2. Jim, I shall definitely look out for the forthcoming post you mentioned. Some interesting questions there that you address.

  3. Love posts like tis and looking forward to the one from Jim Murdock.

  4. Gerry, Me too, I can't wait for Jim's slant on all this..

    So, there you are Jim, we're all eagerly waiting. I've just highlighted your plans in a post "The Italian Woman" (last para.)


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