Angelus 1901

For description see below.

JQAW# G_1901_010
Oil on canvas 110 x 115 cm
Signature: not recognizable, according to APH: sign. & dat. 1901
Unknown private collection, Austria.
Image: composed of b/w reproduction (Künstlerhausarchiv) and color insert of a private photograph (APH, 1995, fig.3).

Harbour scene in the evening. Two Dutch fishermen in loose pants and clogs sit holding their caps in their hands on the wall of a paved quay, from which wooden structures with piers and cross braces of the docks rise and to which several smaller rowboats are moored. A massive anchor chain is visible in the foreground. Behind the quay the open water of the harbor is visible, with a shoreline and a towering ship's mast in the background.

The contemplative title "Angelus" that Adams chose for this atmospheric painting from Holland (likely Volendam) refers to the tradition of ringing the Angelus (morning, noon, evening) and was probably chosen in reference to the Angelus painting by Jean-François Millet, 1857-59 (now in the Louvre), which was very famous at the time. The Millet painting has inspired many generations of artists, inlcuding among others Salavador Dali in 1934.
The two fishermen, whose bared heads indicate either a brief prayer or a pause after work, wear typical Dutch fishing costumes, their muted colors accentuated by the shadow that has already fallen on the quay. In contrast, the water surface in the background is still sunlit, giving the painting an interesting chiaroscuro contrast.

The painting, which Adams first exhibited at the Vienna Künstlerhaus in 1902 (EL 45 1902 #996) remained unsold (probably because of the steep price of 5000 crowns) and was not purchased until a year and a half later at an auction at the Künstlerhaus by an unknown person. Angelus is an early major work of the artist, which was also reproduced several times. Adams must have held this painting in high esteem, as he depicted it again in 1908 in his iconic Family Portrait, stylized in the background but still clearly recognizable, however, as a landscape format (see image comparison in the cross-references). The provenance of the painting is unknown. APH states private collection Vienna and also documents a private (blurred) photo of a section of the picture, information which, however, due to missing documentation, could not be verified. It can only be hoped that this important work of the artist can be fully documented in color in good quality sometime in the future.


1902 Künstlerhaus Vienna (EL 45 1902 #996) as Angelus (Holland).
1903 Künstlerhaus Vienna (EL 46 1903 #1849) as Angelus.
1903 Künstlerhaus Vienna (EL 47 1903/04 #74) as Angelus.


APH, catalog raisonné JQA 1995, p. 40, cat.#9 (figs. 2 and 3).


1903 auction Künstlerhaus Vienna 14.12.1903 lot#1.
Jul(ius?) Kohn, Vienna.
1995 Private collection Vienna (APH, undoc.).
Unknown private collection, Austria.