Wally Neuzil: More Than a Prostitute, Less Than a Wife (Vienna 1911, a Mistress in Love)

Wally Neuzil: More Than a Prostitute, Less Than a Wife (Vienna 1911, a Mistress in Love)

Wally Neuzil by Egon Schiele

An interpretation of Egon Schiele and Wally Neuzil love affair seen with the contemporary eye of a woman.


Soundtrack for this post: Body Electric by Lana Del Rey (Amazing live version at the end of this post)

This week has been a slow motion of post-novel emptiness, nightmares of seizures, unwanted marriages, and stubborn ponytails which don’t really flatter the good-girl look, if constantly carried high, with a black leather jacket.  
Nevertheless, every early morning my two squirrel friends were always there, waiting for a crumble or just to say hi, by the tree in front of my kitchen window, where I enjoy the highest quality Espresso (I’m Italian, what did you expect?) 7:00 AM, breathing the chilly mist of my private, tiny frame on the Hollywood Hills.
With the second cup of coffee and the first cigarette of the day I closed the window and sat down at the kitchen table to read the news and continue the research for my new novel; that’s when I stumbled upon a review of a current exhibition of Egon Schiele’s Women in Manhattan, written by Karen Rosemberg on the New York Times. 
I was planning on just reading it and moving on to the next article, for I have always been obsessed with his paintings but then – when Rosemberg went deeper into Schiele‘s watercolors of his redhead lover Wally Neuzil (while he was married to his bourgeois wife Edith) I have read – she was more than a prostitute for him, but less than a wife.

Of course very little is known of this young woman, seventeen years old at that time; model and mistress (of Gustav Klimt before meeting Schiele in 1911).  Wild and suffocated by the claustrophobia of Vienna, passionate for art, and apparently for the prohibited love of something she could not have.  Just what I was looking for to inspire my day and my writing!
I am not a feminist at all costs, the Sixties are over.  When I’m in love I am a geisha; when I am not I am straight forward from day one, for and I don’t settle for anything less than the rape of the heart and of the brain.  
Why was I fascinated by their love story?  
Schiele was a very controversial artist when it came to the way he saw women and eroticism; very interesting to analyze, especially given the Era he lived in.  But mostly, it is because I know Wally. 
Look carefully at her portrait up top, with your soul and your imagination free to wander in fantasies  with no chains or taboo (that’s what art is for by the way) and let’s be honest: we all see her beauty, we all wonder where her hidden hand is playing (it doesn’t matter if you are a man or a woman!) We see one hand, but don’t tell me you don’t know where Schiele wanted the other one to be; we are charmed by the fire of her hair, it has always been the color of paramours (why I have no idea, but hey – I did not make the rules of this cruel world for what can be defined as good and what must be called bad!)
We are familiar with the perfect ruby of her lips and Schiele was craving it, while drawing the lines of the upper one – first – and then the lower one – after probably taking the time to indulge in what they had to offer.  Wally’s eyes are inviting you to join the pleasure of her naked shoulder and half a dress still to be torn apart.  BUT WHAT YOU DON’T SEE IT’S HER GODDAMN HEART, there was a soul behind those green Bambi eyes.  Schiele knew, I am sure.  But again, even though she was way more than a prostitute to him,  a muse, a friend, a lover, she was never enough to become more than that.  
That’s exactly the inspiration I was looking for, the beating heart of a mistress in love, Vienna, 1911.   
Of course these are all assumptions, since the characters of this story have all died, very young, in the Great War (Schiele in 1918 – age 28 – and Wally in 1917 – age 23) but one thing I know for sure:  There is one kind of love that if we are lucky enough we encounter once, before we die; it’s the kind of love they probably have had, where inspiration eats you alive, and passion wakes you up in the middle of the night, sweaty and without the chance of breath; that kind of love where you don’t need words, but just meet the eye and know it all; without a whisper.  It’s rare, no matter where you hide your hand, and play the dangerous game of heart and secret pleasure.  

Unfortunately, that kind of love, sometimes, like for Wally and Egon, is not meant to flourish further, not in this life at least.  

She was way more than a prostitute.  She was Valery Neuzil.  

Egon Schiele comes after, he is not the hero, today.

Wally in Red Blouse With Raised Knees

Egon Schiele and Wally Neuzil



 “Egon Schiele’s Women” continues through Dec. 28 at Galerie St. Etienne, 24 West 57th Street, Manhattan; (212) 245-6734, gseart.com