Countess Alice Harrach 1919

Half portrait en face, looking directly at the viewer. The portrayed wears a wide-cut lace dress, over it a fur stole, around her neck a long double-row pearl necklace, which she holds with the fingers of her left hand, as well as on her ring finger a gold ring and sapphire earrings, which are enclosed with pearls. Her brown hair is wavy and pinned up. Background: brown wall surface. The whole portait is executed entirely in different shades of brown.

JQAW# P_1919_040
Oil on canvas 80 x 62 cm
Signature: John Quincy Ɑdams 1919.
Private collection Austria.

Alice Countess Harrach, née Countess zu Hardegg auf Glatz und Machlande, 10.7.1879 Groß-Harraß to 10.2.1962 Aschach an der Donau.
Alice ("Icy") Harrach was born into the old noble family of Hardegg. The Counts of Hardegg go back to before 1200, the present Counts go back in direct family line to before 1500. Today the Hardegg family is known as the owner and operator of the largest agriculture in Austria (more than 2000 hectares of farming, livestock, viticulture and forestry). From 1900 on Icy Hardegg was a member of Viennese society and her appearances at events and her wardrobe were regularly reported by the press. Her appearance "resembled a porcelain figurine" (Fritsche 1922, p.12) and her beauty is often described and documented in pictures. On Feb. 1, 1910, she married Franz Maria Alfred Count von Harrach (1876-1937), who was twice widowed. The Harrachs, who were raised from Baron to the rank of Count in 1627, are known today primarily for their large art collection, which is displayed in a private museum open to the public at their ancestral home, Rohrau Castle, in a small village east of Vienna (where Josef Haydn was born). The marriage was blessed with a daughter Alice Harrach (1916-2006), who married Baron Dreihann-Holenia in 1940 and kindly served as lender to the 1986 Adams exhibition.

Her mother Alice (Icy) Harrach led the characteristic life of the high aristocracy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Alternating stays between her palace in Vienna Favoritenstraße, the castles of Aschach (Upper Austria) and the extensive estates in what is now Czechoslovakia (Schloss Groß-Meseritsch and Schloss Janowitz, nationalized after 1945) and in health resorts, active participation in social events and in charitable initiatives characterized her life. The First World War, the downfall of the monarchy, and the law abolishing the nobility represented a drastic caesura for Franz and Alice Harrach. Count Franz Hardegg was the adjudant of the heir to the throne Franz Ferdinand and a direct witness to the assassination in Sarajevo, in which Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie (traveling in Count Hardegg's automobile - today in the Museum of Military History) were murdered. Probably also in order to resist this loss of social role, the portrait Alice Countess Harrach was commissioned from Adams in 1919. During the interwar period, the Harrach couple continued their accustomed lifestyle between their estates and castles, now in Czechoslovakia, and in Vienna. The death of the Count in 1937, the Second World War, and the loss of the estates in Czechoslovakia were certainly traumatic experiences for Alice Harrach. She died in 1962 in her residence in the park of Aschach Castle, which vacant and dilapidated, finally was sold in 1959.

The portrait Alice Harrach is without doubt one of the most important and charismatic works of Adams. The coloration, quoting Rembrandt, is done only in brown tones, the distinguished expression, as well as the beauty of the now 40-year-old speak directly to the viewer. Together with the portraits of Count/Countess Hans and Marie Traun (see cross-references), it initiated in 1919 a renaissance of representative portraits of the aristocracy, now deprived of their political functions, titles, and names. This task Adams gladly took on and it produced a series of masterful portraits of which that of Alice Harrach certainly represents a highlight.


1986 Academy Schillerplatz Vienna, Viennese Society in Portrait, Catalog No. 46


Schaffer/Eisenburger 1986, exhibition catalog #46 (with color ill.).

APH, catalog raisonné JQA 1995, p. 172, cat.#139, fig.#94.


Her family descendants,
Private collection, Austria.