This painting is one of the most expressive works of the then twenty-year-old artist. In 1911, Schiele wrote to Arthur Roessler, who was the first owner of the painting: “It only now occurred to me that Dead Mother is one of my best.” Roessler received the painting as a gift from the artist and hung it in his study. Every part of the depiction exudes the tragedy inherent to the subject: the mother’s features are haggard, her eyes broken and her head turned unnaturally to the side as she tenderly embraces her child. The language of color speaks volumes. The mother’s skin is rendered in cool and earthy colors – life is over, her body is a dead shell for the child that grew inside of her. The child seems hopelessly lost; even if ist orange- and crimson-colored skin signifies vitality and life, the mother’s death will nevertheless seal its destiny, in addition to her own.