Bertha Habig 1905

¾ Portrait in sitting position, body in front/side view, face in profile view. The sitter is seated turned to her left side in a dark green club chair, legs crossed. Her right hand rests on her knee holding a closed fan, her left hand rests on the chair, playing with a feather boa. Her face is shown in left profile view, looking down. She is wearing a white dress with rich ruffle trim, wide V-shaped neckline and puffed sleeves. A white feather boa is slung around her arms and behind her back. Hair is pinned up, a ring on each ring finger, a solitaire diamond pendant on her ears. Background: indicated residential interior with further club chairs and furniture in graded green-brown tones.

Oil on canvas 120 x 100 cm
Signature: John Quincy Ɑdams 05
Private collection Austria.

Bertha (Berta) Habig, née Hückel, remarried Weydmann, 26.1.1882 Neutitschein (Nový Jičín CZ) to 19.1.1966 Vienna.
Bertha Hückel, daughter of Silesian-Moravian hat manufacturer Johann Hückel (a pioneer of large-scale industrial hat manufacturing) became engaged in October 1902 (Sport & Salon 11.10.1902, p.9) to Karl (Carl) Habig (1879-1937), eldest son of the Viennese hat manufacturing dynasty of Karl and Peter Habig. The marriage was blessed with two children. Divorce from Karl Habig ca. 1919-1925. After 1925 remarriage with Philipp August Weydmann (1875-1950). (Karl Habig, for his part, remarried in 1925/1926 to Henriette Countess Thun-Hohenstein).

With this effective portrait, which is one of his most charming, Adams has probably deliberately depicted Bertha Habig in an emphatically feminine-elegant pose. The richly decorated white dress with feather boa is reminiscent of the portrait of Hermine Gallia by Gutav Klimt (National Gallery London), which was painted at the same time (1904), although Bertha Habig is clearly portrayed more elegantly and advantageously than Hermine Gallia, whom Klimt portrayed in a rather matronly manner despite her lush white dress. The feminine elegant gesture in Bertha Habig's portrait is certainly a deliberate counterpoint to her sporting interests and abilities (tennis, skiing, [horse] show jumping), which were definitely on a competitive level. For example, in 1909 she became Austrian State Ski Champion in women's downhill skiing (Das Interessante Blatt 4.3.1909, p.23), and in 1914 she came in second in the show jumping competition at the Concours Hippique Marburg a.D. (Sport und Salon 6.3.1909, p.7). The common sporting interests of Adams and Karl and Bertha Habig may also have led to their acquaintance and thus to the portrait. Karl Habig and Adams were both active members of the Union Fencing Club Vienna (Neues Wiener Tagblatt 1.3.1906, p.11) and were both co-founders and elected officials of the first Viennese winter-sport (and skiing) club (Die Zeit 13.1.1905 p.9). As is evidenced in the Künstlerhaus entry books, the Habigs were also collectors of Adams' works with Dutch (Volendam) motifs since 1903.

Exhibited

1905 Künstlerhaus Vienna (KH EL 48 1904/05 #1586). 1986 Academy Schillerplatz Vienna 1986, Viennese Society in Portrait, Catalog No. 11.

Literature

Schaffer/Eisenburger 1986, exhibition catalog #11 (m.color illustrations) APH, catalog raisonné JQA 1995, p. 69, cat.#38, fig.#25.

Provenance

Karl Habig Vienna. His family descendants. Private property Austria.

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