Egon Schiele's earliest masterpiece set for $40 million Sotheby's sale
A masterpiece painted by Egon Schiele when he was just 19 years old could sell for up to $40 million when it comes up for sale at Sotheby's next month.
'Danaë', painted in 1909, is regarded as the first important work of Schiele's career, which was cut tragically short when both he and his wife contracted Spanish Flu and died in 1928.
As the first major figural oil painting by Schiele to hit the open market since 2001, 'Danaë' is expected to fetch in the region of $30 - $40 million.
The painting could also beat the previous auction record for an Egon Schiele work, set in 2011, when his 1914 landscape Häuser mit bunter Wäsche (Vorstadt II) sold at Sotheby's for for $39.8 million.
The work depicts an ancient Greek myth in which King Acrisius of Argos imprisons his daughter Danaë in a tower, having learned from an oracle that her future son would kill him.
Despite keeping her away from all mortal men, the King's efforts were unable to prevent Danaë from being impregnated by the Greek god Zeus – who entered the tower by transforming himself into a shower of golden rain.
Danaë is seen surrounded by a gold, green and black shower of Zeus, in a composition inspired by the works of Gustav Klimt, who served as a mentor to Schiele throughout his career.
"It is a privilege to offer this sensational masterpiece by Egon Schiele," said Simon Shaw, Co-Head of Sotheby’s Worldwide Impressionist & Modern Art Department.
"Danaë makes a bold and compelling statement, introducing his unique vision: the flattened pictorial space, the angular line, the radical cropping and stippled flesh rendered in pinks and greens.
"We have witnessed strong demand for breakthrough masterpieces, from Munch’s Vampire to Picasso’s La Gommeuse, and we look forward to presenting Schiele’s Danaë to collectors and museums in May."
The Sotheby's Evening Sale of Impressionist & Modern Art takes place in New York on May 16.
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