Full body portrait in seated position (Archd. Elisabeth), daughter Elisabeth (Stephanie) standing leaning against her. The Archduchess sits in a high tapestry armchair, looking directly at the viewer with a distant gaze. She wears a sleeveless dress with a silk blouse decorated with rich lace. On the head an extravagant hat with floral decorations both on and below the brim of the hat. Her jewels include a long pearl necklace, large pearl pendants on the ears, a gold wedding ring on the right ring finger. Daughter Elisabeth leans against her mother, her fingers of both hands interlaced in an embarrassed gesture, looking directly at the viewer. She wears a white silk dress that ends below the knee and in her hair a white mesh. In the background a silk scarf is lying on the floor, on the wall a large-scale landscape tapestry and a partly visible picture in a rich baroque frame.
Archduchess Elisabeth ("Erzsi"), married Princess Windischgraetz, remarried Petznek, 2.9.1888 Laxenburg to 16.3.1963 Vienna.
Daughter of Crown Prince Rudolf, who died by suicide, and Princess Stefanie of Belgium. Erzsi (her family nickname) became known after the monarchy as the "Red Archduchess" (since 1925 a member of the Social Democratic Workers' Party). For her colorful biography, ill-marriage and later long legal custody battle for her children in the Windischgraetz house, her affairs, her socialist political views and marriage to the social democratic teacher and politician Leopold Petznek, see the entries in wikipedia and Das rote Wien, as well as the references. Her only daughter (besides three sons) is known as Stephanie Windischgraetz (referred to in the portrait by her 4th given name as Elisabeth. Her full name was Stéphanie Eleonore Maria Elisabeth Kamilla Philomena Veronika zu Windischgrätz), 9.6. 1909 Bloskovice CZ to 7.9.2005 Uccle Belgium.
Adams has produced an apt milieu study with this portrait. The fashion-wise exaltation (and preference for extravagant hat creations), the pronounced sense of status (also arrogance) of the archduchess, and the family situation characterized by great tensions, which is widely described in the extensive literature on the archduchess, is reflected in the icy, distant gaze of the archduchess, her unconventional hat (cf. also the equally lost Laszlo portrait), the imperial background of the picture, and also in the uncertain posture of the 5-year-old daughter Stefanie, who obviously feels uncomfortable in the studio atmosphere.
The portrait of "Erzsi" with her daughter was exhibited at the Künstlerhaus in 1914 and also visited by her grandfather Emperor Franz Josef I, briefly mentioned in the press, and has since been lost (as has the Laszlo portrait of the Archduchess, see cross-references). It was not found in the extensive estate of the art collection of Elisabeth Petznek, which she bequeathed to the Republic of Austria. Only through the recent digitization initiative, a photograph of the Adams portrait emerged from the archives of the MAK Vienna (there with Adams? assigned by an archivist) and is identified here as the lost 1914 portrait. It is possible that the painting was either lost or even destroyed during the long-running rose war in the Windischgraetz household (marriage in 1902, separation in 1919, protracted legal dispute over custody of the children, divorce in 1948) and the changing residences that accompanied it. Although some works of art from the estate of Elisabeth Petznek were left to the heirs for free selection as family memorabilia (the selection, however, was not documented), a location with family descendants is also unlikely, since the painting is not mentioned in any biography (not even in the work of her niece Ghislaine Windischgraetz).
1914 Künstlerhaus Wien (EL 59 1914/15 #1725).
APH, Werksverzeichnis JQA 1995, S. 121, Kat.#89 (o.Abb.).
Friedrich Weissensteiner, Die rote Erzherzogin. Österr. Bundesverlag Wien 1984. Neuauflage 2005.
Ghislaine Windisch-Graetz, Kaiseradler und rote Nelken. Amalthea, Wien/München 1992.
Photo: MAK Archive Vienna.