Portrait of Wally

Egon Schiele • Painting, 1912, 32.7×39.8 cm
About the artwork
Art form: Painting
Subject and objects: Portrait
Style of art: Expressionism
Technique: Oil
Materials: Wood
Date of creation: 1912
Size: 32.7×39.8 cm
Artwork in selections: 54 selections

Description of the artwork «Portrait of Wally»

"Portrait of Walley" - a picture of the action story. She was abducted, dragged into dubious sales, arrested at the height of the exhibition, she was tried for 12 years, made new laws, did not want to part with it, so they sold another picture to Schiele from the museum collection. Why so much noise?

There is no greater success for the museum than as a result of long searches and deals to get two paintings in the collection, which were conceived as a pair. Sometimes museums of different countries even unite to buy paired portraits in half and then show them in turns. Sadly separated paintings and series, which the artist conceived as a whole, in museum history is also missing. Two worksEdouard Manet from the unfinished series about the seasons are in different museums:"Autumn" - in Nancy, and"Spring" - in Los Angeles. Image cycleRouen Cathedral at different times of dayClaude Monet traveled around the world, although the artist wanted to see it entirely in one museum.

So here. "Portrait of the Valley" Egon Schiele wrote in a pair with self portrait. The paintings were conceived as a whole. And in the middle of the 20th century they were reunited in the personal collection of Rudolf Leopold, and since 1994 they have become the property of the state. Austria bought from Leopold a personal collection of paintings (there were almost 5 thousand) for 160 million euros. When in 1998, "Portrait of the Valley" went on tour to the New York Museum of Modern Art, a storm broke out.

Museum officials, families of two collectors, several departments of two governments (America and Austria), customs, and several state courts were involved in the scandal. The heirs of an Austrian Jewish woman, collector Leia Bondi Yarai, who emigrated to America in 1939, saw a picture at the exhibition in MoMA that once belonged to her. According to them, all her life Leia tried to get her back. Before the very emigration, her gallery was confiscated, and “Portrait of the Valley”, which was in her personal collection in her house, was confiscated by the Nazi art dealer Friedrich Welz. The picture was arrested and not released from America as long as 12 years while the courts were going and both sides were looking for evidence: representatives of Rudolf Leopold argued that he did not know about the dark past of the picture, relatives of Leah Bondi Yarai claimed that after the war she even turned to Leopold to find and redeem a picture for her.

The result of this exhausting trial was an agreement: the Leopold Museum undertook to pay 19 million euros to the heirs of Leah Bondi Yarai in compensation for the “Portrait of the Valley”. And the picture remains in the museum. To pay off such an impressive debt, the museum was forced to sell another picture of Egon Schiele - "Houses with colorful linen".

Thus, the portrait of one young model, who had gone to work as a nurse in a military hospital in Vienna and died at the age of 23 because of a grudge against an unfaithful lover Egon Schiele, caused a huge scandal on two continents and changed international legislation on restitution.

Author: Anna Sidelnikova