This artwork is one of over 100 self portraits that Schiele created. Many of them depicted the artist naked. Schiele would work with a mirror but his images are distorted and exaggerated. This Self Portrait with Black Vase is no exception. Schiele's face appears gaunt, sallow and angular. His eyes are dark and enlarged within the deep sockets. The expression is hard to read. The fingers, splayed like scissors, are elongated and bony. They draw the viewers attention. The pose is uncomfortable and challenging to hold, like many of the poses in his other paintings and self portraits. Despite Schiele's fascination with portraying himself in this way, he was described as "handsome" and "well maintained" by others. He was even described as "shy" and sensitive" despite the excessive amount of self portraiture and numerous nude paintings, which have often been described as exhibitionism.
It seems that Schiele enjoyed pushing the boundaries of art and challenging ideas of beauty.In some ways this portrait is unusual, there is less use of line and more use of colour than in other paintings. Schiele has been described as a master of line drawing and often use it to create movement and mood. In this Self Portrait with Black Vase, Schiele's image is richer and more colourful. Many of his other portraits have a more simplistic, linear style. He was influenced by Gustav Klimt and also Expressionism. In this Self Portrait with Black Vase the viewer can see how the use of colour, exaggerated gestures and distortion was typical of the expressionist movement and is used to depict emotional response and subjectivity. Challenging yet strangely compelling, Egon Schiele's Self Portrait with Black Vase is as intriguing now as it was during his short but prolific career.
Self Portrait with Black Vase can be found within the collection of the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria. This city actually hosts a huge selection of his work, spread across several different art galleries and museums, with the Leopold Gallery continuing to serve his career between than any other public collection in the world. They host over two hundred artworks from his career, with several other notable pieces to also be found with the Kunsthistorisches Museum as well as other venues close by. It is rare to see a famous artist so well represented in the city that gave him so much, and that he in return contributed too. The Kunsthistorisches Museum itself hosts an extraordinary list of names, pretty much the whose who of European art history from the Renaissance up to the start of the 20th century, including the likes of Albrecht Durer, Lucas Cranach, Diego Velazquez and Pieter Bruegel.