According to our author, Jane Kallir, 1916 was Egon Schiele's least productive year. He spent his time off the military base with his wife, Edith, but marriage was becoming more of a disappointment than a joyful exploration. They travelled together and he was able to visit Vienna and reconnect with his family again. He completed several studies of his young nephew for future oil paintings during those visits.
In 1917, Egon declared that he wanted to start anew. The whole year was a busy and productive one. Egon spent time strengthening contacts with his old art patrons and friends. His military superiors took advantage of his artistic abilities and sent him to document supply depots and other outposts. While travelling on those assignments, he did many landscape drawings and paintings.
A bookseller created a portfolio of Egon's reproductions. They sold out quickly and Egon's related postcards sold well. For the first time in his career, Egon began to receive fan mail! He received inquiries from collectors and writers, and had many commissions. The War Museum asked him to help organize a war exhibition and Egon showed his work at the Munich Seccession of 1917.
Edith, at this time, felt completely left out of Egon's life. She complained that he never discussed his work with her. He used her less and less as a model. He began using his sister-in-law, Adele, as his model. Adele said she was not shy about posing nude and even claimed that she and Egon had an affair during this time. True or not, he did use her as a model often - we don't always know which models are Adele because she was a brunette (Edith was a blonde) and Egon painted many of his models with red hair (remembering Wally, his red-haired muse of the past?), not caring for the reality of their hair color.
Egon is using black crayon now instead of the soft pencil he used previously for his drawings. He becomes more concerned with volume and less with color. The number of nudes he does during 1917 exceeds the output from previous years.
Following a near sell-out exhibition at the 49th Vienna Secession of early 1918, Egon becomes widely known as the preeminent Austrian artist of his day (Gustav Klimt died in February of 1918 following a stroke). Egon was asked to take charge of organizing the Secession and he created a lithograph for the poster, using artist friends as the models (and placing himself at the head of the table and an empty chair for the deceased Klimt). Egon received the largest room at the Secession show and placed 19 oils and 29 works on paper - all sold out with a waiting list for more when the show ended! While some of his colleagues may have complained that Egon stole the show, they had to admit to his guidance and hard work to make the show a success for all of them.
Due to the success of the Vienna show, Egon now has a flood of requests from collectors, magazines and even theatres (he is asked to create sets). He has enough money to rent a large studio and hire professional models.
Egon is 27 year's old, and 1918 is only beginning...