Alfred Géza von Liechtenstein 1923

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Head portrait oil sketch of a 16-year-old young man. Head slightly lowered, eyes looking up, looking at the viewer. Short hair suggesting a parting. Reduced color scale in brown and ocher tones with red accents (cheeks, lips).

JQAW# P_1923_040
Oil on canvas, 42 x 33 cm.
Signature: John Quincy Ɑdams 1923.
Private collection Austria.

Alfred Géza Johann Dionys Maria Josef von und zu Liechtenstein, 27.6.1907 Betlér (Hungary, now Betliar, Slovakia) to 28.12.1991 Frauenthal, Styria. From 1929 head of the (South) Styrian branch of the Liechtenstein family, forester.

Alfred Géza was the son of Prince Johannes von und zu Liechtenstein (1873-1959) and of Maria "Marizza" Liechtenstein, née Countess Andrássy (1986-1961), see her Adam's portrait in the cross-references). Youth in Pula and Trieste, where his father Johannes was stationed as a naval officer, then in Betliar and Vienna. His sporting interests as a youth included fencing (foil and saber, Residenz Fencing Club in Vienna) and golf. In 1929, after his father renounced the succession, he took over the family properties of the southern Styrian line of Liechtensteins (see excursus The Lines of the House of Liechtenstein below). On 26 April 1932 he married Ludmilla Princess of Lobkowicz (1908-1974), the marriage was blessed with four children (1 daughter and 3 sons). He lived in Hollenegg Castle and Frauenthal Castle in western Styria. Afred Géza devoted himself mainly to the forestry management of his estates, which he successfully brought through the difficult times of the depression in the 1930s and National Socialism, and modernized them in the post-war period. He also continued the Liechtenstein tradition of breaking up primogeniture: his eldest son Franz Géza (1935-) inherited the West Styrian estates (Hollenegg Castle and Frauenthal), and his son Friedrich (1937-2010) inherited Riegersburg Castle and the East Styrian estates. (Following this tradition, Afred Géza's son Franz Géza also bequeathed Hollenegg Castle to his son Alfred Paolo (1972-) as well as Frauenthal Castle to his son Lukas Wolfgang (1974-), also his daughter Livia (1977-) was given real estates in Hollenegg and in Italy).

Adams' portrait of the 16-year-old Afred Géza Liechtenstein is particularly captivating because of the charm of the handsome young man (still without the thinning hair and mustache that characterized him in later years) and the immediacy of a head study. It was created in 1923 parallel to the portrait Adams made of Afred Géza's mother "Marizza" von und zu Liechtenstein, née Countess Andrássy (see cross-references). The study, executed in brown and red tones, is enchanting because of its serious expression and the sitter's direct eye contact with the viewer. One senses the closeness and empathy Adams had for the young sitter, as they shared many interests, especially in fencing, which Adams pursued at a high competitive level in his younger years. Few portraits by Adams capture youth, and perhaps naive immediacy, as successfully in a portrait as the study of the young Alfred Géza Liechtenstein.

Excursus: The Lines of the House of Liechtenstein.
The succession of the families of the high aristocracy was/is regulated by two legal instruments. The Fideikommiss, a kind of foundation, which comprises the inalienable core possession of land and real-estate of the family (possessions beyond that are practically at the free disposal as so-called Allodialgut), which is inherited undivided for use, as well as the principle of primogeniture (title and Fideikommiss properties are inherited by the eldest son, whereby all further descendants go out empty). This principle was first softened in the House of Liechtenstein in the interests of greater fairness (though only among male descendants) by Prince Johann I Josef Liechtenstein (1760-1836), from whom all living members of the Liechtenstein family descend. By purchasing numerous landed estates in addition to the (enormously large) possessions in present-day Czechoslovakia (expropriated after 1945), the Principality of Liechtenstein, and the properties in and around Vienna, Prince Johann I. planned the establishment of three Fideikommiss in favor of his non-first-born sons: Franz de Paula (1802-1887, from whose line Alfred Géza descends), to whom the southern Styrian estates were intended; Karl (1803-1871), estates in Lower Austria; and Friedrich (1807-1885), estates in Carinthia and Upper Styria. The establishment of Fideikomisse required the approval of the emperor, which took place in 1833, 1846 and 1860, but was fully implemented however only under Prince Johann II. (1840-1929, see his portrait by Adams) Liechtenstein. Besides the main princely line (which became extinct in 1938 and was continued by Franz Josef II. (1909-1986) from the Styrian line) there are therefore three further lines of the House of Liechtenstein, of which the line after Franz de Paula (1802-1887) is particularly significant for Styria: son Alfred Luis (1842-1907), grandson Alois (1869-1955 married to Archduchess Elisabeth, the youngest daughter of Emperor Karl and his son Franz Josef II, the reigning Fürst Liechtenstein after 1938, Waldstein Castle), grandson Franz (childless), and grandson Johannes (1873-1959), the father of Alfred Géza (1907-1991, Hollenegg Castle). The Fideikommiss holder of the main line bears the title of Fürst (his eldest son is the Hereditary Prince), all other members of the family (now several hundred) bear the title of Prince or Princess von und zu Liechtenstein, which can easily lead to confusion in the genealogy of the great house, given the shared hereditary names (e.g. Johannes or Alfred). Only the reigning Fürst’s name is specified further by roman numerals.

Exhibited

1986 Akademy Schillerplatz Vienna, Viennese Society in Portrait (no catalogue entry).

2022 Riegersburg castle, special exhibition, 200 years of the Liechtenstein family (in Styria).

Literature

APH, catalog raisonné JQA 1995, p. 181, cat.#148, fig.#101.

Provenance

Sitter.
His family descendants.
Private collection, Austria.

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