Friedrich Sueß Senior 1906

¾ Portrait standing, looking directly at the viewer. The sitter with bald head and well-groomed white full beard. He wears a black tailcoat with white shirt and tailcoat tie, under it the Commander's Cross of the Order of Franz Joseph with red neck ribbon. On the lapel a golden lapel chain with three miniature orders (Knight's Cross of the Order of Franz Josef, Order of the Iron Crown as well as the Golden Cross of Merit with Crown), on the tailcoat vest a plain golden watch chain. Background: wall surfaces designed by coarse brush strokes in dark brown color; next to the portrayed a small table under a dark brown cloth, on it an open book; on the wall two partially visible indicated pictures.

JQAW# P_1906_070
Oil on canvas 140 x 90 cm
Signature: John Quincy Ɑdams 906
WienMuseum Inv.No. 304634

Friedrich Sueß (Suess, also Süß) Sen., 8.6.1833 London to 6. 11.1907 Vienna, leather manufacturer and philanthropist, see also his entry in the OeBL.
Friedrich Sueß was born in London in 1833. The family moved first to Prague and then to Vienna in 1844. After studying abroad, he joined his father's leather goods factory in Sechshaus (Lower Austria, since 1890 XV. District Vienna), where he became a partner in 1857, manager after his father's death in 1862 and (after the death of his brother) sole owner from 1872 onwards. In 1897 he retired from management, which was taken over by his son Friedrich Sueß Jun. (since 1908 Ritter von Hellrath, 1864-1938), and devoted himself to his political mandates and humanitarian tasks. Member of the Lower Austrian Parliament (1870-1877), the Imperial Council (parliament) (1873-1891), and the Industrial Club (1880-1903, since 1899 President). From 1866 to 1907, he served on the General Council of the Austro-Hungarian Bank and in other supervisory positions at public institutions until his death. In recognition of his humanitarian activities, Sueß-Gasse in Vienna's 15th district was named after him in 1888 (since 1914 named after his brother Eduard Sueß). Friedrich Sueß Sen. was awarded a total of four imperial orders, which are also shown in the portrait.

Friedrich Sueß married Helene (Ilka), née Rath (1837-1915) in 1858, the marriage (divorced in 1898) was blessed with one son and four daughters. The Sueß family had Jewish roots, but its members were all of the confession Evangelical AB. The family produced a number of outstanding entrepreneurs and scientists. Best known today is Friedrich’s brother, the geologist Eduard Sueß (1831-1914), who first coined the term biosphere in 1875 and was instrumental in planning the First Vienna Water Pipeline, which has supplied Vienna with high-quality drinking water ever since 1873. Also well-known is Eduard's grandson, the chemist and nuclear physicist Hans Eduard Sueß (1909-1993). As an entrepreneur, Friedrich's son Friedrich Sueß Jr. Ritter von Hellwart (1864-1938) deserves special mention. He was nobilitized in 1908, awarded the French Legion of Honor and served as highly decorated Portuguese consul and consul general in Vienna for many years.

The portrait, painted in 1906 shortly before the death of Friedrich Sueß Sen., combines both conservative elements of the gentleman's portrait in the tradition of the late 19th century, but also already new elements of a more modern representation, characterized by the near absence of decorative accessories as well as the tone-on-tone, largely abstract background of the picture. The painting was probably commissioned through the artist's acquaintance with Friedrich Sueß Jun.: both were active fencing athletes. (Friedrich Sueß Jun. is known as a duelist from the 1908 biography of Max Friedmann also portrayed by Adams. Ill. Kronenzeitung 28.5.1909 S.12-13.). Despite the notoriety of the sitter, however, the portrait was not exhibited at the Vienna Künstlerhaus, perhaps because of the sitter's death soon after its completion. The painting came from the possession of family descendants in 2018 as a purchase to the WienMuseum, where it was inventoried under the number 304634.


Max Friedmann 1908




The sitter and his family descendants.
2018 purchase by WienMuseum, Inv.Nr. 304634.