Dr. Hans Adler


Half portrait in seated position and side view from the left. The sitter in a dark suit with white hair and full beard, sits in an armchair with curved armrests, elbows propped on the armrest, hands clasped together in front of him. In the left background medical instruments and a microscope on a side table, on the wall behind an indicated picture.

JQAW# P_1906_060
Oil on wood, 98 x 66 cm
Signature: John Quincy Ɑdams
Private collection Austria.

Dr. Hans Adler 3.9.1843 Vienna to 12.10. 1923 Vienna, ophthalmologist and social reformer.
Hans Adler was born in Vienna in 1843 and studied medicine under Professor Ferdinand Ritter von Arlt (1812-1887), among others. In 1872 he was appointed ophthalmologist at the k.k. Krankenhaus Wieden, where he continued to work after his retirement (1914) until his death (1923). At Wieden Hospital, Dr. Adler established an eye department with an outpatient clinic and a ward, which he headed as primarius from 1888. (Famous colleagues at the hospital were the gynecologist Josef Ritter von Halban [1870-1937] and the brother of the author Arthur Schnitzler, the surgeon Julius Schnitzler [1865-1939]). In addition to his work at the k.k. Hospital Wieden, Dr. Adler was also an ophthalmologist at the St.-Josef-Kinderspital, at the k.k. Taubstummeninstitut, as well as an ophthalmologist at the Theresianum (elite school). In his private practice he treated many well-known personalities, including members of the imperial family (including Archduke Charles, later Emperor). He also wrote numerous scientific papers. In addition to his medical and scientific duties, Dr. Adler was also socially active: he served as the imperial and royal ophthalmologist for the city poor, founded the pension institute of the Doctors' College, and was also elected president of the Widows' and Orphans' Society. He was honored several times for his work, including the Knight's Cross of the Order of Franz Joseph (1897) and appointed “Hofrat” (Court Councillor) in 1914.
In 1879 he married Johanna Anna A., née Wieser (1859-1930), the marriage was blessed with three children, of whom the lawyer, writer, and operetta librettist Dr. Hans Adler (1880-1957) is the best known.

Adams achieved with the 1906 portrait of the 63-year-old Dr. Adler a particularly successful study of the character and personality of the well-known ophthalmologist. The side view serves not only to highlight the characterful profile of the doctor, but also allows to illustrate the tools of his medical (e.g. stethoscope) and scientific (microscope) work. It is noteworthy that Adams portrayed only one other scientist in Vienna besides Dr. Hans Adler, the gynecologist Professor Ernst Wertheim (Die Operation 1909, see cross-references). Late in his career, Adams portrayed three other scientists at Yale University in the United States. Unfortunately, the picture was not documented at the 1986 exhibition, so it can only be reproduced here by a b/w photograph from the Künstlerhaus archive. There is also no complete data on the provenance of the painting. The picture was commissioned by the Widows and Orphans Society and exhibited in 1907/08 at the Künstlerhaus (EL 51 1907/08 #3438) as "Regierungsrat Dr. Adler". It later came into an unknown private ocollection. The lender of the painting to the 1986 exhibition was, appropriately enough, an ophthalmologist who was also a painter and sculptor.


1907 Künstlerhaus Vienna (EL 51 1907/08 #3438).

1986 Academy Schillerplatz Vienna, Viennese Society in Portrait, Catalog No. 14.


Schaffer/Eisenburger 1986, exhibition catalog #14 (no ill.).

APH, catalog raisonné JQA 1995, p. 75, cat.#44, ill.#30.


1907 Witwen- und Waisen-Sozietät Wien.
1986 Private collection Vienna.
Current location and ownership (Austria) unconfirmed.