In the waning decades of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, fin de siècle Vienna became a crucible of creativity.
Many of the artistic movements which shaped Western thought in the 20th century began in this remarkable melting pot of cultures and influences.
Austro-Germans, Czechs, Ruthenians, Serbs, Croats, Bosnians and Slovenians rubbed shoulders in the streets, and the coffee houses buzzed with talk about this new science of psychoanalysis and the work of Sigmund Freud.
Sex was in the air — an air seething with repressed desires — and no artist captured this more vividly than Egon Schiele.
Who was he? Where did he come from? What was he trying to achieve?
Sophie Haydock imagined herself into his world by channeling the stories of three women that Schiele painted: his sister Gertrud, his muse Vally, his wife Edith, and his sister-in-law Adele.
Did you ever stop to think about the model who posed for a painting, and the life she led?
Sophie’s debut novel, The Flames, will change the way you look at art.
Sophie trained as a journalist at City University, London, and has worked at the Sunday Times Magazine, Tatler and BBC Three. She’s also written for the Financial Times, Guardian Weekend magazine, Arts Council, Royal Academy and Sotheby’s.
She’s the first novelist I’ve talked to on the podcast. My main interest is travel literature, but I always intended that Personal Landscapes be open ended so I could speak with writers of fiction, historians and others.
If you’re not familiar with the work of Egon Schiele, I highly recommend looking at Sophie’s Instagram feed to get a sense of his remarkable work as you listen to our conversation.
You can read more about Sophie Haydock on her website.