Portrait of Marga Boerner
Portrait of Marga Boerner, 1917
Gouache and crayon on paper
45.6 x 29.5 cm (17 15/16 x 11 5/8 inches)
Anonymous gift 1991.079
Among the nearly three thousand drawings that Schiele created using his distinctive expressionistic line, portraits and provocative figure studies were his most frequent and compelling subjects. He created RISD’s work while serving in the Austrian army during World War I. Schiele had been called up in 1915 and was able to arrange a transfer in 1917 to the Royal Military Supply Depot in Vienna, where a sympathetic commanding officer, Hans Rosé, provided opportunities to pursue his art. Rosé was enamored of actress Marga Boerner and asked Schiele to make a portrait drawing of her. This is one of three known to exist. The actress’s down-turned eyes and bare shoulders and thighs seem to reveal more about her admirers’ fantasies than they do about Boerner herself.