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Letter from Egon Schiele to Karl Ernst Osthaus, 9th May 1912

Leopold Museum,
Leopold Museum,
Black ink on paper
14.8×20 cm


  • Egon Schiele

    (Tulln 1890–1918 Vienna)

  • Karl Ernst Osthaus

    (Hagen 1874–1921 Merano)

Unfortunately not on display at the moment


9th May, 1912.
Dear Mr. O. [Osthaus] You have no idea what I have gone through recently. – I was charged and jailed for 24 days because a police constable found in my studio 125 drawings of nudes, declared them obscene and confiscated them. They simply arrested me and placed me in investigative custody. I was told that children had been in my studio whom I drew in their clothes, and that they saw one of my drawings there. – I vegetated and became acquainted with prisons; I finally ceased believing in freedom; my anguish was unimaginable, I am so ruined inside. I lived out in the country, as you perhaps know, and had a very intimate bond with nature in Neulengbach. But it became so loathsome for me, so dead, so transparent. – This is why it is supremely important that I – I am not selfish – recuperate. I still have hopes and that is what life is about. – I lack the necessary means, of course, and I don’t know if you would be willing to risk a few 100 MK [marks] so that I can leave immediately for 3 or 4 months to Carinthia, where I long to go. – Don’t at all think that I have any ignoble intentions; if you only knew! But. – I don’t want to hear anything about buying, about buying pictures, that sounds rather crude. – We will trade! – After all, you have the necessary money and I will give you pictures, we will trade. No price, nothing. Do you understand me? So perhaps you can make it possible for me to depart in the next few days.
With best regards
Egon Schiele
presently Vienna XII. Rosenhügelstr. 9.

Object data

  • Sender: Egon Schiele
  • Recipient: Karl Ernst Osthaus
Letter from Egon Schiele to Karl Ernst Osthaus
9th May 1912
Black ink on paper
14.8×20 cm
Credit line
Leopold Museum, Vienna, Inv. 5375
Inventory access
Accession 1997
Catalogue raisonne
  • ESDA ID 173
  • Nebehay 1979: Nicht gelistet/Not listed
Egon Schiele
Autograph Database

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Provenance research
Leopold Museum i

Karl Ernst Osthaus, Hagen (bis 1921);
Erb*innen nach Karl Ernst Osthaus (1921 bis vermutlich 1997);
Auktion: 26.11.1997, Antiquariat J. A. Stargardt, Berlin, Autographen aus allen Gebieten, Los Nr. 707; (1)
Leopold Museum-Privatstiftung, Wien (1997); (2)

  1. Antiquariat J. A. Stargardt, Autographen aus allen Gebieten. Katalog 667, Berlin 1997, S. 241-243
  2. Archiv des Leopold Museums, Rechnung vom 26.11.1997

For provenance related information, please contact us.