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Nude Self-Portrait, 1908

Leopold Museum,
Oil on canvas
139.3×100 cm


  • Richard Gerstl

    (Vienna 1883–1908 Vienna)

Currently on display at OG3
The 25-year-old painter Richard Gerstl (1883–1908) presents himself completely nude in this painting. Standing up straight, he is extending his arm towards the canvas in the dark area to his right. His intense gaze is focused directly on the beholders. His style of painting is furious, heated and passionate. The background shows scrawled, turning brushstrokes; the whirl of color in the lower left part of the picture illustrates his internal unrest during the painting process. The painter dated the work on the front, giving the 12th September 1908 as date of creation. His separation from Mathilde Schönberg (1877–1923) had thrown Richard Gerstl into a deep existential crisis. The unsparing manner in which he depicts himself here was a radical act of self-exposure. Nude self-portraits were still an absolute taboo in 1908. In fact, this painting can be considered one of the first nude self-portraits in Central European art history. It is Gerstl’s first and only nude self-portrait – he committed suicide a little more than three weeks later.

A closer look

The artwork explained by
art expert Markus Hübl


Audio for adults

Object data

  • Richard Gerstl
Nude Self-Portrait
Art movement
Oil on canvas
139.3×100 cm
Dated lower right: 12. Sept. 1908
Credit line
Leopold Museum, Vienna, Inv. 651
Inventory access
Contributed to the Leopold Museum-Privatstiftung in 1994
Selection of Reference works
  • Richard Gerstl. Inspiration - Vermächtnis, hrsg. von Hans-Peter Wipplinger u.a., Köln 2019 (Ausst.-Kat. Leopold Museum, Wien, 27.09.2019-20.01.2020).
  • Wien 1900. Aufbruch in die Moderne, hrsg. von Hans-Peter Wipplinger, Wien 2019 (Ausst.-Kat. Leopold Museum, Wien, ab 15.03.2019).
  • Wien 1900. Sammlung Leopold, hrsg. von Diethard Leopold/Peter Weinhäupl, Wien u.a. 2009.

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Provenance research
Leopold Museum i

Nachlass Richard Gerstl, Wien (1908);
August und Alois Gerstl, Wien (1908-1931); (1)
Neue Galerie, Wien (1931-1954); (2)
Galerie Würthle, Wien (1954-1966); (3)
Familie Kamm, Zug, Schweiz (1968); (4)
Rudolf Leopold, Wien (1968-1994); (5)
Leopold Museum-Privatstiftung, Wien (1994).

  1. Otto Kallir: Richard Gerstl (1883-1908). Beiträge zur Dokumentation seines Lebens und Werkes, in: Mitteilungen der Österreichischen Galerie, Jg. 18 (1974), Nr. 62, S. 125.
  2. Kallir, Gerstl, 159 u. 126. Dr. Otto Nirenstein erstellt 1931 ein Nachlassverzeichnis, das Bild “Selbstbildnis (Akt in ganzer Figur)” erhält die Nummer 42. Ankauf von 36 Gemälden von Alois Gerstl.
  3. Kallir, Gerstl, S. 135; Katalog zur Biennale in Venedig 1956, Nr. 1, „Autoritratto: Nudo in Piedi, 1908“. Vienna, Galleria Würthle; Katalog der Secession, Wien 1966, Nr. 44.
  4. Archiv des BDA, Ausfuhren AZ 14.339/68, Bescheid vom 20.06.1968.
  5. Archiv des Leopold Museums, Auskunft Leonora Kugler (Kunsthaus Zug) vom 16.07.2019.

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