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Portrait of a Patient, 1915

Leopold Museum,
Watercolor, pencil on paper
48.5×32 cm


  • Erwin Dominik Osen

    (Vienna 1891–1970 Dortmund)

Unfortunately not on display at the moment
In spring 1915, Erwin Osen (1891–1970) made a series of portrait drawings of patients in the psychiatric ward of the Garrison Hospital II on Rennweg in Vienna, where he himself was being treated for “chronic neurasthenia” over a period of several weeks. The works were likely commissioned by electropathologist and head of the neurology ward Stefan Jellinek (1871–1968) for purposes of medical research and education. The identity of the person portrayed in this drawing is unknown, as are his diagnosis and therapy. But unlike in most of the other patient portraits from this series, the clinical setting that they originated in is not only obliterated here, but replaced with a quasi-theatrical staging of the patient. Depicted in full-length profile, the pale body with the head bandage stands out against an abstract black backdrop whose shape is reminiscent of another figure in cloak and hood—the “Grim Reaper”, the personification of death. Osen countervails the diagnostic-therapeutic perspective of clinical treatment with the power of artistic fictionalization. The drawings are from Jellinek’s estate; others also included in the holdings of the Leopold Museum are:
Portrait of a Patient (“Bruno Granichstaedten”); Portrait of a Patient; Portrait of a Patient; Portrait of a Patient; Studies of Patients; Portrait of a Patient; Portrait of a Patient; and Portrait of a Patient (“Catamite”).

Object data

  • Erwin Dominik Osen
Portrait of a Patient
Art movement
Graphic work
Watercolor, pencil on paper
48.5×32 cm
Signed and dated lower right: Osen Erwin von 1915.
Credit line
Leopold Museum,Vienna, Inv. 6425, The acquisition of these drawings was made possible by the generous support of the society of Friends of the Leopold Museum
Inventory access
Accession 2019 2020

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Provenance research
Leopold Museum i

Stefan Jellinek, Wien / Oxford (1915-1968); (1)
Ernst Heinrich Jellinek, Edingburgh (ab 1968); (2)
Diana Jellinek, Timperley, UK (bis 2020); (3)
Leopold Museum-Privatstiftung, Wien (seit 2020)

  1. Archiv des Leopold Museums, E-mail Mag. Verena Gamper an Dr. Alfred Fehringer vom 09.03.2022
  2. Christian Klösch, Stefan Jellinek. Eintrag im Lexikon der österreichischen Provenienzforschung vom 06.01.2019
    (, 10.03.2022)
  3. Archiv des Leopold Museums, Rechnung vom 28.01.2020

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