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Hermits, 1912

Leopold Museum,
Oil on canvas
181×181 cm


  • Egon Schiele

    (Tulln 1890–1918 Vienna)

Currently on display at OG3
This painting, titled Hermits, shows two approximately life-size men in robes of brown and black shades, fused into one body of garments. The left figure is a self-depiction, but the person standing behind it cannot be identified clearly. Is it another portrait of the artist himself, of his mentor Gustav Klimt (1862–1918) or of his father Adolf, who died when Schiele was young? This unanswered question has inspired many different interpretations of the double portrait. Egon Schiele (1890–1918) himself wrote about the painting in a letter to his collector Carl Reininghaus (1857–1929): “It is not a gray sky, but a grieving world in which the two bodies are moving, they have grown up alone in it, come up from the soil organically; this whole world including the figures is meant to represent the ‘decrepitude’ of all things; a single withered rose that exhales its white innocence, opposed to the wreathed flowers on the two heads. – The left one bows before such a serious world, his flowers are meant to appear cold, relentless, extinguished flowers I would like to call them or compare them with words of equal volume uttered by one terminally ill who can now only stammer, hollowly and hoarsely; I am quite content with the way the flowers are painted here, there could really be fewer; but the faded colors in which I have painted them are intentional, otherwise the poetic thought and the vision would be lost, along with the ambiguity of the figures, which are intended as sunken into themselves, the bodies of men tired of life, suicidal, but bodies of feeling men.– Think of the two figures as a cloud of dust similar to this earth which wants to build up and must collapse weakly.”

A closer look

The artwork explained by
conservator Sandra Maria Dzialek


Audio for adolescent

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Object data

  • Egon Schiele
Art movement
Oil on canvas
181×181 cm
Signed and dated lower left (three times): EGON SCHIELE 1912
Credit line
Leopold Museum, Vienna, Inv. 466
Inventory access
Contributed to the Leopold Museum-Privatstiftung in 1994
Selection of Reference works
  • Rudolf Leopold: Egon Schiele. Gemälde, Aquarelle, Zeichnungen, hrsg. von Elisabeth Leopold, München 2020.
  • Wien 1900. Aufbruch in die Moderne, hrsg. von Hans-Peter Wipplinger, Wien 2019 (Ausst.-Kat. Leopold Museum, Wien, ab 15.03.2019).
  • Tobias Natter: Egon Schiele, Sämtliche Gemälde 1909-1918, Köln 2017.
  • Egon Schiele. Melancholie und Provokation, hrsg. von Elisabeth/Diethard Leopold, Wien 2011 (Ausst.-Kat. Leopold Museum, Wien, 23.09.2011–19.04.2012).
  • Wien 1900. Sammlung Leopold, hrsg. von Diethard Leopold/Peter Weinhäupl, Wien u.a. 2009.
  • Der Lyriker Egon Schiele. Briefe und Gedichte 1910–1912 aus der Sammlung Leopold, hrsg. von Rudolf Leopold/Elisabeth Leopold, München 2008.
  • Jane Kallir: Egon Schiele - The complete works. Expanded edition including a biography and a catalogue raisonné, New York 1998.
  • Otto Kallir: Egon Schiele. Oeuvre Catalogue of the Paintings, New York 1966.
  • Otto Nirenstein: Egon Schiele. Persönlichkeit und Werk, Berlin 1930.
Catalogue raisonne
  • J. Kallir 1990/1998: P229
  • Leopold 1972/2020: 203, Taf. 92
  • Natter 2017: 110
  • O. Kallir (Nirenstein) 1930: 106
  • O. Kallir 1966: 159

If you have further information on this object, please contact us.


Provenance research
Leopold Museum i

Nachlass Egon Schiele, Wien (1918);
Arthur Stemmer, Wien / London (1918-1953); (1)
Dr. Rudolf Leopold, Wien (1953-1994); (2)
Leopold Museum-Privatstiftung, Wien (1994).

  1. Otto Nirenstein, Egon Schiele. Persönlichkeit und Werk, Berlin 1930, Nr. 106; Sonja Niederacher, Egon Schiele. „Die Eremiten“, Dossier vom 30.06.2010, S. 3
  2. Diethard Leopold, Rudolf Leopold - Kunstsammler, Wien 2003, S. 54-57

For provenance related information, please contact us.