Elisabeth von Morawitz 1924


Half portrait slightly side view, head turned towards the viewer and slightly raised, looking into the distance. The sitter wears short, wavy blond hair and a wide-cut, almost see-through white silk dress lined with pearls at the neckline, reminiscent of a pearl necklace, with a white chiffon over it.

JQAW# P_1924_080
Oil on canvas 68 x 52 cm.
Signature: John Quincy Ɑdams 1924
Private collection Austria
Image: private photo of the owner

Elisabeth ("Lisi") Kunigunde von Morawitz, née Mercy, remarried von Nostitz-Rieneck, 18.6.1901 Prague to 26.5.1982 Wiener Neustadt; publisher and socialite.
Elisabeth Kunigunde was born into the Mercy publishing family, which published the liberal newspaper "Prager Tagblatt," among others. After the death of her father Dr. Wilhelm Mercy (1866-1914), she was, together with her sisters Rosa (1896-1916) and Mathilde "Mimi" (1897-1982), married Benies (see their Adams portrait, cross-references), the owner and publisher of the Prager Tagblatt and co-/owner of other publishing houses and printing companies. On Sept. 24, 1919, she married Edgar von Morawitz (1893-1945, see his side-note below), a banker's son, publisher and car-racer. The marriage was blessed with two sons: Thomas M. (1922-2016, Spanish participant in the 1948 Winter Olympics) and Johann M. (1924-2012, provenance researcher and active in art restitution after 1945). (The brothers escaped the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1939/1940 joining their father in Spain; only Johann returned to Austria in 1946). The Morawitz couple separated around 1926 and the marriage was annulled by decree of the Papal See on 6.6.1927. (Edgar von Morawitz moved to Spain after the separation and signed over his shares in the publishing house Julius Kittel to the sisters Elisabeth and Mathilde). Elisabeth married again on 27.6.1928 in Klecany (the estate of her sister Mathilde and Max Benies) with the retired naval officer Franz Anton Graf Nostitz-Rieneck (1888-1956, see his Adams portrait and own catalog entry). The couple led a jet-set lifestyle with alternating residences in Prague (at the historic Hložek de Žampach palace, now the residence of the Austrian ambassador) and at the Langreith hunting lodge in Salzburg, with numerous trips (including Monte Carlo and Egypt) and active participation in social events (horse races, tennis tournaments, receptions, aristocracy weddings) both in Vienna and Prague. After 1945 and the expropriation and expulsion from Czechoslovakia, residence in Langreith and later also with her son Johann/Hans Morawitz in Wiener Neustadt, where she also died in 1982. Gravesite in the family crypt Nostitz-Rieneck in Hintersee, Salzburg.

The 1924 Adams portrait of Elisabeth von Morawitz is one of the artist's most accomplished. The beauty of the sitter is particularly emphasized by her hairstyle, which is reminiscent of a coiffure tousled by the wind, as well as the simple, refined dress, whereby the picture completely dispenses with glamorous attributes. The picture combines both natural posure and elegance, a combination that Adams rarely really accomplished, where sophisticated elegance is often accompanied by aloof distance in characterizing the portrayed. The 1924 portrait was likely painted in Vienna and is one of a series of portraits of the sitter's extended family circle (see cross-references): 1925 portrait of her sister Mathilde/"Mimi" Benies and her husband Max Benies (lost), as well as 1929 portrait of her second husband Franz Anton Nostitz-Rieneck in nostalgic k.u.k. naval uniform. Adams also portrayed the sister of Edgar von Morawitz, Mrs. Nolly von Seemann (Leonie von Seemann-Treuenwart, née von Morawitz, 1888-1944) in 1913 as well as Sophie von Hohenberg (1901-1990), the wife of Franz Anton's cousin Friedrich Leopold N.-R. (1891-1973) as a child around 1910.

Side-note: The Adventurous Life of Edgar von Morawitz.
Edgar von Morawitz was born on April 26, 1893 in Vienna as the son of the financial expert and banker Carl/Karl/Charles Morawitz (1846-1914), who was nobilized as Ritter von Morawitz in 1913 (see his entry in the OeBL and his portrait by Philip Alexius de László from1904) and the daughter of a banker Margarethe von Frank (1868-1925). Erich had three sisters. After attending the k.k. Akademisches Gymnasium in Vienna, he took part in the World War as a lieutenant of the Dragoon Regiment 11. After the war he moved to Prague, where he owned publishing houses (among others as a partner of Julius Kittl Nachfolger Keller & Comp. in Ostrava) but above all pursued his passions for car racing and tennis. As a gentleman driver he had his greatest racing successes with Bugatti racing cars, with which he achieved several top ranks at the Eifelrundfahrt and the Taunusrennen (1925) and in 1926 a 2nd and 7th place at the Grand Prix of Rome (on Bugatti T34) and a first place at the mountain race of Zbraslav-Jiloviste. One of his sisters was married to the car racer Hugo Urban-Emmerich. In 1919 he married the publisher's daughter Elisabeth Mercy, the couple had two sons, but separated around 1926. The marriage was annulled by the Holy See in 1927. In 1927 Erich M. moved to Spain, where he acquired a farm and in 1929 also the race course of Sitges-Terramar (opened in 1923) near Barcelona which he operated for some years. He also co-financed the development of a Spanish racing car (8-cylinder Ricart-España), but it achieved only moderate success; he competed in further races in Spain again with Bugatti cars (his fortune allowed him to purchase several vehicles). At the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, his farm in Sitges was occupied by Republican troops and he himself was imprisoned in August 1936, but released after interventions by the Czechoslovak consul. He returned briefly to Prague, but immediately traveled back to Spain via Italy, where he joined Franco's troops and disarmed as Capitán at the end of the Civil War in 1939. During difficult economic times, he converted the Terramare race course into an orchard. One source reports that he converted a Bugatti into a truck and used it to supply the Barcelona fruit market. His two sons moved in with him after 1939/1940, fleeing the Nazi troop occupation of Prague. Edgar von Morawitz died in Sitges/San Peres de Ribes near Barcelona on Sept. 2, 1945, only 52 years old.


1986 Academy Schillerplatz Vienna, Viennese Society in Portrait, Catalog #50.


Schaffer/Eisenburger 1986, exhibition catalogue #50 (no ill.)

APH, catalog raisonné JQA 1995, p. 188, cat.#155, no ill.


Her family descendants from 1st marriage.
Private collection Austria.