Egon Schiele painting 'Procession' for sale

The Associated Press
Wednesday, November 3, 2010; 5:51 PM

VIENNA -- Austrian auctioneers presented a precious Egon Schiele painting Wednesday that could fetch millions when it goes under the hammer next week.

"Procession" is a dark work that dates to 1911 and depicts three women in different stages of their lives. It is currently owned by an unidentified American art collector and valued from euro3.5 million ($4.9 million) to euro7 million ($9.9 million).

Potential buyers from Japan, Ukraine, southern Europe and the United States have expressed interest in casting bids Tuesday evening, said Otto Hans Ressler, the director of Vienna's im Kinsky Kunst Auktionen GmbH auction house.

"This is only the third significant oil painting by Egon Schiele in an Austrian auction in the past 30 years," he told a crowd gathered to get a close-up look at the piece.

Art expert Herbert Giese pointed out that Schiele, who died in 1918 at age 28 and was known for his sexually provocative and somber images, was very young when he created "Procession."

"Although just 21, Schiele was at a point where he appeared to have the intelligence, worldly wisdom and experience of a much older person," he said.

Another Schiele painting - "Portrait of Wally" - recently made headlines when it returned to Austria from the United States after a 12-year dispute that illustrated the difficulty of proving that art was stolen by Nazis.

The painting was rehung at Vienna's Leopold Museum - which boasts the world's largest Schiele collection - in August after it agreed to pay $19 million (15 million euros) as part of the settlement to the estate of art dealer Lea Bondi Jaray, the original owner.

Elisabeth Leopold, widow of the late founder of the Leopold Museum, described "Procession" as "highly interesting."

"Schiele painted people from the inside," Leopold told The Associated Press at Wednesday's viewing. "He wanted to portray something different, something new, something true."



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