Childhood or Egon's rocking horse
Here you find out why Egon played with dolls and what his mother brought back for him from Vienna; how he came to draw steam engines and which books his father gave him to read.
Children need time to play. They have to explore the world for themselves. They are not just small adults. These ideas were not yet firmly planted in everyone’s mind in the late 19th century. In many families in Tulln, the children had to help out at home; their attendance at school was of little concern. Egon and his sisters were lucky. Their father’s large apartment at the train station had four rooms. It was ample space for romping around. Egon rode his rocking horse through the living room or ran his train sets over the thresholds. Egon had forty train sets. Every time his mother Marie visited Vienna she brought back a handsome new set for him. Not totally altruistically. After all, Egon’s father was hoping his son would one day follow in his footsteps and become an engineer and railroad official of the Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Bahn.
Danube landing, ca. 1900
Understanding the world.
Adolf Schiele opened up his library to his son early on. The first municipal playgrounds appeared in Tulln around 1900 complete with sandboxes, swings, seesaws and merry-go-rounds but Egon did not play much outside with his classmates. The young painting genius was a bookworm. And the bookshelves in his father’s study were full of classics by everyone from Goethe to Schiller plus illustrated volumes on the natural sciences and guide books for all imaginable countries. For his father, literature was a means to an end. They were intended to help the boy have a career in engineering. For Egon it was the gateway to the big wide world.
An eye for technology.
This paternal strategy did succeed but not completely as Egon’s father had envisaged. Paging through the illustrated volumes and specialist books, Egon obtained his first important tools for his career as an artist: an eye for technology and an understanding of design. While doing hundreds of railroad sketches on paper, he nonetheless always sought models in real life. He would then roam with his sketchbook through the station hall and take possession of his stern father’s territory in his own way.