by Nathalie Azoulai
Those Viennese painters did have strong faithful women on their side. As for Klimt with Emilie Flöge, Egon Schiele had Wally Neuzil, the one woman that inspired many of his early portraits up until 1915 when they broke up. While she modeled for Schiele, Wally was also working as a sales assistant, a cashier and mannequin at a clothing store. Together with Schiele she moved to Krumau in the spring of 1911, a little village in the Czech Republic. She stood by him during his time in prison in April 1912, trusted in his integrity and provided active support throughout this crisis. Until early 1915 she remained the person the artist related to most closely. The exhibition housed by the Leopold Museum in Vienna insists strangely on that Wally overcame the severe separation Schiele imposed on her when he decided to marry Edith Harms. It also tells the visitor that Wally trained to be a nurse in a Vienna hospital during the war, volunteered to go to Dalmatia where she died from scarlet fever at the age of 23. As Freud would say, did she really overcome?