Anton Peschka was a fellow Austrian painter who was a close friend of Schiele and was in the same class at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. He was five years older than Schiele and eventually became his brother-in-law when he married Schiele’s sister, Gertrude, in 1914. The portrait was included in Schiele’s first public exhibition in 1909 in Vienna.
The portrait is an oil on canvas painting in the Art Nouveau style that measures 100 x 110.2 cm. It is currently located in a private collection and was sold at Sothebys in 2001 for over seven million pounds.
It shows a young man, Anton Peschka, seated in a large armchair with patterned fabric. He is facing to the side so that only his left silhouette can be seen in the painting. He wears a rose pink suit with a white collar and cuffs and his hands are folded together on the arm of the chair.
Peschka’s hair, beard and moustache are painted in a deep black. Schiele uses mainly neutral shades of grey and beige in the rest of the painting, with a few small points of dark pink colour used in the fabric of the chair and in a pattern of foliage.
This makes Peschka and his clothing stand out in a subtle contrast. Schiele also used red paint to highlight his subject’s cheeks and the knuckles of his hands. The paint that Schiele used included a metallic finish that is used to add a silver and gold bronze sheen to the walls and the chair.
The painting is obviously influenced by Gustav Klimt, who was Schiele’s mentor, in its use of opulent pattern and colour.