Franz Anton Count Nostitz-Rieneck 1929

¾ Portrait standing, looking directly at the viewer. The sitter is wearing a k.u.k. Linienschifftsleutnant uniform (three narrow braids with elliotic eye above) without epaulettes and with rapier, holding a naval cap in his right hand. His left hand is in his trouser pocket, with his uniform skirt folded back. On his left breast several unidentifiable medals, under his right breast he wears the Seeflugführer (navy pilot) badge. Background: ocean waves, above a flat background suggesting an overcast sky.

JQAW# P_1929_050
Oil on canvas 132 x 96 cm
Signature: John Quincy Ɑdams 1929
Private collection Austria
Image: private photo of the owner.

Franz Anton (František Antonín) Bohuslaw Friedrich Maria Graf von Nostitz-Rieneck 16.6.1888 Falkenau/Sokolov (CZ) to 15.11.1956 Bad Wiessee (D), naval officer, hunter and bon vivant.
Franz Anton was born in 1888 as the second child of Leopold Abraham Maria N-R. (1865-1945) and Caroline (Cara), née Countess Chotek von Chotkowa und Wognin (1865-1919, the sister of Sophie Countess Chotek, the wife of Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne and assassinated with him in Sarajevo in 1914). The couple had 5 sons. Franz Anton probably spent his youth in the later Czechoslovakia in the castle Falkenau/Sokolov as well as in Prague (public sources are practically non-existent). Only with the First World War and afterwards the source situation becomes better. Franz Anton N-R. was k.u.k. Kämmerer (an honorary title reserved for the high aristocracy and giving access to the imperial court), as well as a knight of the Sovereign Order of Malta. He began his military career as an ensign in the k.u.k. Navy, where he was promoted to lieutenant of the line. He was also a seaplane pilot , a naval branch that had the highest mortality rates next to submarines. Franz Anton returned home from the war unscathed and thereafter led the life of a private citizen. As early as 1918, he was accepted as an annual member of the highly exclusive Vienna Jockey Club. In 1927/1928 (December to May) he was a member of a 5-month big game hunting expedition that took Alfons and Clarisse Rothschild across Egypt, the Sudan to Kenya, and was even accompanied by his own cameraman, killing over 500 animals (see Roman Sandgruber, Rothschild - Glanz und Untergang des Wiener Welthauses, 2018, pp.405-408).

After his return he married on 26.6.1928 now already 40 years old on the Benies estate in Klecany the exceptionally attractive, wealthy publisher Elisabeth, née Mercy, married von Morawitz , see her Adams portrait and own catalog entry (cross-references), whose 1st marriage had been annulled by the Holy See on 6.6.1927. (A marriage with a divorced woman would have been unthinkable for an active Knight of Malta -- Franz Anton was, among other things, a participant in the Maltese Congress in Rome in 1934). The couple had no descendants (Elisabeth, however, had two sons from her first marriage) and led a jet-set lifestyle with alternating residences in Prague and the former Habsburg hunting estate Langreith in Salzburg, which Franz Anton had acquired in about 1928, and active participation in social life (attending car races, polo tournaments, the classical darbys in Vienna and in Pardubice, participation in tennis tournaments, hunts, among others with the Rothschilds and the Larisch) and numerous trips (Adriatic Sea, Monte Carlo, Egypt). Remarkably, no charitable activities or participation in such events are reported in the press for the couple. However, Franz Anton showed civil courage in difficult times, also because of the Jewish roots of his wife. His brother Herrmann died in a concentration camp. In 1945 Franz Anton provided accommodation for his racially persecuted brother-in-law (married to Mathilde, née Mercy, (1897-1982), see her Adams portrait) Max Benies (1894-1955, also portrayed by Adams, but portrait lost), who briefly returned to Prague from his exile in Kenya in December 1945. (In turn he quickly returned to Kenya, this time prosecuted by the Communists.) After the expropriation and expulsion of the German population from Czechoslovakia, the couple lived at Langreith. Franz Anton died in Germany in 1956. His grave is located in Hintersee near Langreith in Salzburg.

The portrait of Count Franz Anton is, despite its late date (1929), rather a picture that could have been created in the time of the monarchy with its colorful uniforms. Adams obviously complied with the portrayed person's wish to be depicted in his k.u.k. uniform. This gives the picture a special nostalgic character. Only the background of the picture, except for the stylized sea, completely devoid of objects, points to the late phase of the artist. The picture probably remained in Austria after completion. Thus it was spared the destruction and looting in 1945/1946, which happened to the paintings of his married relatives, the Benies family. The picture, as well as that of his wife Elisabeth from 1924, remained in the possession of the family and the descendants after the children of the first marriage of his wife.


1986 Academy Schillerplatz Vienna, Viennese Society in Portrait, not included in catalogue.


APH, catalog raisonné JQA 1995, p. 218, cat.#185, no ill.


The sitter.
His widow.
Her family descendants from 1st marriage.
Private collection Austria.