Self Portrait with Physalis, 1915 by Egon Schiele

In what is probably his best-known self-portrait, the 22-year-old Egon Schiele captivates us in a way that is at once self-confident and fragile. Nothing in this balanced composition is left to chance; every line finds its continuation or a counterpart to which it corresponds:hair and body are both cropped by the edges of the painting as if reflecting, one shoulder is pulled up with the other lowered, and the slender branches bear intensely coloured red lampion fruit (which actually are more likely Chinese lantern flowers).

1912 was an extremely productive year for Egon Schiele, a year during which his expressionistic style of painting became somewhat calmer and closer to reality.Schiele's intense involvement with himself, life and the society of his times was to be interrupted abruptly in April of 1912. Schiele, who lived with his girlfriend Wally in the town of Neulengbach, was wrongfully accused of kidnapping an underage girl and taken into investigative custody.Although the charges were soon dropped, Schiele was deeply hurt in terms of his creativity and his self-image as an artist.This is not yet evident in his Self-Portrait with Lampion Fruit; this painting shows an Egon Schiele who is sensitive, confident of his giftedness and likely at the zenith of his creativity.