Egon Schiele’s (1890–1918) painting The Procession
, created in 1911, is among the artist’s most enigmatic works, as the figures interwoven into the faceted and stylized landscape allow for different interpretations. A dark-haired figure, depicted from the front, dominates the right half of the painting with the elongated, triangular frame of her dress. To her left, a figure with an emaciated face and closed eyes is turned towards her, while at the top, we discern the skeletal head of a further figure, half of which is cut off by the depiction. The frame of the latter’s dress covers the image plane in a pyramidal manner, while the body of the crouching figure in front of it is embedded into an ovoid shape. One obvious reading is to associate the three figures with the three stages of life, though an interpretation of the work as reflecting Schiele’s family history is equally conclusive: the father, who died prematurely, beneath him the mother – depicted, as in other works, with closed eyes – and next to her the artist himself, standing on three signatures, as part of the procession. During the artist’s lifetime, the work The Procession
was regularly shown from 1912 in international exhibitions together with the now lost painting Jesuits
; only the jury of the Vienna Secession rejected the two works submitted for their spring exhibition in 1913.