Prince Alexander Dietrichstein 1927
¾ Portrait standing, en face, head turned to the left, looking into the distance, mouth slightly opened. The sitter is wearing a brown three-piece suit with a blue striped tie, over it an open black coat with a dark brown fur collar and brown lining and lapels. His right hand is in his coat pocket, his left hand, on which he wears a gold ring, is hooked into his pants pocket with his thumb. Background shows a white wall surface, on which only the shadow of the portrayed is visible.
Oil on canvas 124 x 89 cm
Signature: John Quincy Ɑdams 1927 (changed from 1922)
Private collection Argentina, permanent loan to
Mikulov Regional Museum, Mikulov Castle, CZ.
Alexander II. (Albert Viktor Olivier Anton), Count Mensdorff-Pouilly, 3rd Prince von Dietrichstein zu Nikolsburg, 15.7.1899 Weidlingau to 12.1.1964 Munich, the last of his lineage.
Alexander was born in 1899 in the family villa in Weidlingau (Vienna) as the son of Hugo Count Mensdorff-Pouilly 2nd Prince of Dietrichstein zu Nikolsburg (1858-1920) and the Russian Princess Olga Alexandrovna Dolgoruky (1873-1946). The Princes Dietrichstein-Nikolsburg derive from the old Carinthian dynasty of Dietrichstein, which has been documented since about 1100 and was raised to the rank of princes in the 17th century. The dynasty became extinct in the male line with the death of the 8th Prince Moritz von Dietrichstein (1775-1864), the educator of the Duke of Reichsstadt (1811-1832, son of Napoleon and Archduchess Marie Luise). In 1869 Alexander Count Mensdorff-Puilly (1813-1871), Austrian statesman and foreign minister, who was married to Alexandrine Dietrichstein and thus came into possession of the Dietrichstein domain of Nikolsburg (Mikulov), was appointed 1st Prince von Dietrichstein zu Nikolsburg by imperial diploma. His grandson Alexander II. was the last bearer of this title and owner of the Nikolsburg/Mikulov domain and castle.
Alexander had three sisters and spent most of his youth in Vienna (see the Kokoschka portrait of the siblings in the park of Weidlingau from 1916). At the age of 21, after the death of his father Hugo, he became the 3rd (and last) Prince von Dietrichstein zu Nikolsburg (also known as Prince Dietrichstein-Nikolsburg, or simply Prince Dietrichstein). He is described in contemporary sources as an "elegant, graceful, almost girlish youthful appearance [who] is well known from all festivities, from the opera and from the turf" (Die Stunde 10.1.1925 p.3 ) and led an international jet-set lifestyle as an early motorist (including a Horch Limusine, which was stolen from him in 1929, Arbeiter Zeitung 30.12.1929 p.4), polo player, and host to numerous celebrities (including the Spanish ex-king Alphonse XIII, the Duke of Winsor [the abdicated English King Edward VIII.] and his wife Wallis Simpson, Richard Strauss, as well as the Rothschilds) in his palace at Vienna's Minoritenplatz as well as at Nikolsburg/Mikulov Castle, whose large landholdings were not affected by the Czechoslovak land reform (expropriations affecting numerous other aristocrats) in the 1920s after reported interventions from the English royal family (to which the Mensdorff-Pouilly were related) (Die Stunde 10.1.1925 p.3). Nevertheless, in order to finance his lifestyle, he felt compelled to sell the filet pieces of the unique historical library of the castle at auctions in Vienna and Lucerne in 1933 (the estimated value of the top lots was up to 5000 Swiss francs, H. Gilhoffer & H. Ranschburg, Versteigerungs Katalog No. 11, 1933). On 29.10.1930 he married the Argentine María de las Mercedes Dose y Obligado (1902-1964) in Paris. The marriage was blessed with a daughter Mercedes (Olga María de las Mercedes Theresia Margarete) in 1932. After the Nazis came to power, Prince Alexander tried to arrange himself with them and in 1939 applied for membership in the NSDAP (Bundesarchiv Berlin, Bestand: Parteikorrespondenz, Alexander Dietrichstein, geb. 15.7.1899, Lesefilm-Nr. B 311, Bild-Nr. 615), but this application was rejected. In the last days of the war in 1945, Nikolsburg/Mikulov Castle burned down completely, and the large estate was expropriated in 1946. In 1949 the Dietrichstein family left occupied Vienna and moved to Argentina. The Dietrichstein Palace on Minoritenplatz was sold to the Republic of Austria in 1955 and is now part of the seat of government. Alexander and Maria Mercedes Dietrichstein died tragically in a car accident in Munich in January 1964 during a visit to Europe. They found their final resting place in the Dietrichstein family crypt in Vienna Hietzing. With Alexander II. the Dietrichstein princely line became extinct for the second time.
The Portrait of Alexander Dietrichstein represents the culmination and at the same time the conclusion of the artist's late phase. Accessories that characterize the status of the portrayed person have completely disappeared, the clothing is casually modern, and the background of the picture has completely disappeared in favor of a white canvas surface. According to the Künstlerhaus entry book, the portrait, or an initial version of it, was exhibited as early as 1922 (KH EL 62 1922/23 #3506), and then the final portrait in turn again in 1929 (KH EL 81 1929/30 #928). (A change in dating from 1922 to 1927 in the signature is likely). It was the last painting Adams exhibited at the Vienna Künstlerhaus before his death in 1933 and caused considerable attention. The portrait adorned the cover of the magazine Sport im Bild (issue 2 from 1929), however, without naming the portrayed. The portrait remained with the sitter and accompanied him when he moved to Argentina, where it was inherited by his family descendants. It is now on permanent loan to the Dietrichstein Ancestral Gallery (which survived the devastating fire of 1945) of the Mikulov Regional Museum in the reconstructed Mikulov castle. A visit to the museum is also recommended for the unique Renaissance funeral dress of Margaretha Francisca Lobkowicz, née Dietrichstein.
1922 Künstlerhaus Vienna (EL EL 62 1922/23 #3506)
1929 Künstlerhaus Vienna (KH EL 81 1929/30 #928)
Permanent: Regional Museum Mikulov, Mikulov Castle, CZ.
APH, catalog raisonné JQA 1995, p. 213, cat.#180, fig.#121.
The sitter and his family descendants,
Private collection, Argentina.
On permanent loan to Regional Museum Mikulov,
Dietrichstein Gallery, Mikulov Castle, CZ.