Riding about town or Egon and the carriage
Here you find out where people strolled in fin de siècle Tulln and where Egon’s father drove the family; why people secretly whispered about them and why the station master was a town dignitary.
It was fin de siècle Tulln. A residence of the Babenberg dynasty centuries before, the town was finally experiencing a new upturn again. Yet oxcarts and horse-drawn vehicles still predominated in the streets. Tulln had long been a rail stop on the Franz-Josefs-Bahn. And now an iron bridge was being built there across the Danube. The 4,000 inhabitants of the district seat purported to be sophisticated and urbane. Decked out in their Sunday finery, they ambled through Wiener Strasse to the main square, which had served as a center of trade even in medieval times. They admired the goods in the windows of the fine shops, tried out the latest fashion from Vienna, the imperial capital. And as a crowning touch to their little outing, they treated themselves to cake and coffee at one of the small confectioneries.
Wiener Straße, ca. 1902
Town dignitary in uniform.
The Schiele family’s reputation in Tulln was not exactly sterling. As station master, Egon’s father Adolf was a town dignitary. To highlight his position as a person commanding respect, he wore a uniform with sword and a plume hat. His young wife Marie came from a wealthy family and like her, he only felt comfortable in polite society. When the Schieles rode in their horse-drawn carriage through Wiener Strasse to the main square, they were greeted from all directions. Convention dictated that. But not every greeting was reciprocated. That was why the townspeople talked behind the family’s back, complaining about how arrogant the newcomers were. The family had lived in town for only a few years yet considered itself better than other people.
Impressions of the countryside.
Were the Schieles aware that people were talking about them on the sly? Outwardly, they seemed quite unruffled. On carriage rides out into the countryside around Tulln, Egon’s father Adolf collected not just butterflies and minerals but also mental images for his landscape pictures. Of course, he lacked his son’s talent. Egon was already blazing new trails with his first portraits and landscapes. “Taboo-breaking” was how Schiele experts a century later would describe Egon’s approach. They also remind people that even the young Schiele had a very special way of looking at the world.