As the son of the stationmaster in the provincial Austrian town of Tulln, Schiele had enjoyed a comfortable childhood, but his father suffered secretly from syphilis.
An older sister died, probably of the disease, when Egon was three, and his father finally succumbed in 1904, when the artist was fourteen.
He was rather impressed by the linear, two-dimensional style of Gustav Klimt and the Vienna Secessionists, who spoke out as an artists' group against the stiff academic conventions of the historical school and in favour of a reconciliation of art and life.
After Egon Schiele had more and more acquired the creative principles of Gustav Klimt in an act that can be described as a form of rebellion against the dogmatism of his education, his early withdrawal from the academy in 1909 accelerated his striving for his artistic self-realisation, which was independent of a painting style that celebrated the aesthetics of the beautiful appearance.
Lacking adult inhibitions, Schiele was able to confront the nature of human existence, including the struggle for identity, creativity, sexuality, and the inevitability of death on the most profound level.
Schiele’s interest in such weighty themes--expressed most directly in his allegories and his landscapes--derived in part from the Symbolist tradition exemplified by his sometime mentor, Gustav Klimt, and in part from his own early encounters with death.
In 1912, the artist was imprisoned for a short period of time because of his way of painting very young nude models that was thought to be immoral.
Schiele then joined the "Bund Österreichischer Künstler" and worked for the Berlin journal "Die Aktion" in 1913.
Schiele, always an indifferent student, at this point immersed himself completely in his art.
After being asked to leave secondary school in 1906, he defied his family’s wishes and obtained admission to the prestigious Vienna Academy of Fine Art.