Schiele created many portraits of women in his studio. These works are characterized by their frank and unapologetic portrayal of nude and sexual bodies. They are absent of any setting or context that moralizes or renders humorous the nudity. Rather, he makes it clear that the model is in his studio. This is emphasized by his use of perspective and the picture frame. Schiele’s female portraits are marked by the unnatural postures. The models are far from classical beauties with alabaster bodies and unblemished skin. Schiele’s portraits of women confront the viewer and show what Viennese society at the time sought to repress.
In the earlier female portraits Schiele’s radical experimentation and revolt against social taboo resulted in such provocative works as such as Black Haired Girl with Lifted Skirt (1911). The girl faces the viewer with an expression of ecstasy, her genitalia not only exposed, but almost turned inside out. Between 1916 and 1918, Schiele entered a phase of consolidation, his “classical period.” The Lying Woman (1917) demonstrates this tendency. The posture is erotic while her sexual attitude seems to be in contradiction. The woman looks coolly into the distance, and her claw-like left hand looks aggressive. The earlier style that accentuates feminine sexuality has given way to a quiet but conflicting gesture of eroticism.