Paternal love or Egon and the mysterious visitor
Here you find out about Egon’s encounters with death and his talks with an imaginary guest; why valuable railroad stock was thrown in the fire and why the family had to leave the station in Tulln.
Children dying was part of everyday family life at the end of the 19th century. Yet Adolf and Marie Schiele were hit especially hard. The first two pregnancies ended in a stillbirth. Then their third daughter, Elvira, died at age ten of meningitis. Egon was just three years old at the time and was suddenly the only child in the large station apartment occupied by the station master and his family. He sensed his parents’ sadness and for the first time, experienced the oppressive feeling of being abandoned. It was a feeling that would accompany him to the end of his short life.
Adolf Schiele, station master and Egon's father
Destroyed by fire.
The first stroke of fate was soon followed by a second. His beloved father was diagnosed with syphilis. The disease was insidious initially. Adolf Schiele, always a man much respected by employees for his strict discipline, suddenly began neglecting his duties. He mislaid important documents, mixed up figures and dates. Sometimes he even had hallucinations, too. When that happened, Egon and his mother had to converse with an imaginary friend at the dinner table. When the symptoms intensified, a tragedy occurred. In a state of delirium, the sick man burned up his shares of railroad stock. The family fortune went up in flames and so too did the Schiele family’s social standing in Tulln.
The beginning of the end.
In September 1904, Adolf Schiele was relieved of his duties as station master by the Qualification Commission of the Franz-Josefs-Bahn. The family was forced to evacuate their apartment in Tulln station and moved to Klosterneuburg. One can only suppose that Egon later incorporated in his pictures certain observations he made of his sick father during this period. The physicians could not do anything more for the sick man. He attempted suicide in Český Krumlov, his wife’s place of birth, but failed. Adolf Schiele died a few months later, on New Year’s Eve 1904. Egon was just 14 at the time and had already looked into the face of death twice.