Egon Schiele, The Hermits

Egon Schiele, The Hermits, 1912, oil on canvas, 71-1/4 x 71-1/4″ (Leopold Museum, Vienna)

Key points:

  • The use of gold and fractured appearance of the background recall religious art of the medieval period, uniting the spiritual concerns of the past with the psychic interests of the modern age.
  • Schiele’s visible use of paint creates an agitated feeling, reflecting Expressionism’s interest in our inner states of anxiety and tension.
  • The figure on the right could reference the older Austrian artist Gustave Klimt. Since he has no eyes, he may also symbolize a prophet who possesses inner vision.
  • Schiele described The Hermits as a poetic summary of his own experience, perhaps implying that the artist serves as a prophet in the modern age.

Smarthistory images for teaching and learning:

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Cite this page as: Dr. Steven Zucker and Dr. Beth Harris, "Egon Schiele, The Hermits," in Smarthistory, November 28, 2015, accessed April 12, 2024,