Countess Kitty Schönborn 1916


Full body larger-than-life portrait in rich room interior (illustrated by a golden brocade curtain, a painting in golden frame and an antique dresser). The portrayed is standing at the dresser, her right arm propped on it. She wears a black taffeta dress with V-neck, trimmed with white silk and a sheer black silk scarf. Her jewelry includes a floor-length pearl necklace, a pearl ring and pearl ear clips. At her feet a standing greyhound (Borzoi dog).

JQAW# P_1916_330
Oil on canvas 215 x 128.5 cm
Signature: John Quincy Ɑdams 1916
Belvedere Vienna Inv.No. 6069

Kitty Schönborn / Baronin Rothschild - Belvedere Wien

Kitty Countess Schönborn (1885-1946). Born 13.3.1885 as Cathleen Wolff in Philadelphia, USA; 1st marriage (1904-1911) to Dandridge Spotswood (1872-1939); 2nd marriage (1911-1924) to Erwin Count Schönborn-Buchheim (1871-1937), 3rd marriage (1924-1946) to Baron Eugène de Rothschild (1884-1975); died 9.10.1946 in Locust Valley, Nassau, New York, USA (also buried there). For her biography see Sandgruber 2023 (s. Literature below). The picture designation follows the original at the time of the 1st exhibition (1917) as Countess Kitty Schönborn (current designation in the Belvedere collection as Kitty Baroness Rothschild).

Icon of Adam's glamorous portrait style and in this surpassing a corresponding portrait by Philip de László. Representation, (larger than life) picture format, and attributes (floor-length pearl necklace, greyhound, short hair) follow the staging of the masterful photo portraits of Dora Kallmus from 1913 and reflect the beauty and particular attraction of the depicted ("Pretty Kitty") and her dazzling biography (US girl marries her way into highest aristrocracy and money). Thus, already during the First World War, the canon of self-portrayal of society ladies of the 1920s was established.

The portrait was not a commissioned work, but was created on the artist's own initiative. It remained in his possession until his death. From his estate it passed to his widow Frances Adams (1903-1999) and was stored with Adams' sister Mary Teltscher in Vienna. In 1950 (i.e., already after Kitty's death), Frances Adams (remarried Fritsch since 1950) gifted (see her letter to Harriet Walderdorff of 18.6.1975) the painting to Eugène Rothschild (1884-1976), who exported it to the U.S. and where it was prominently displayed in the central hall of his U.S. exile residence Still House on Long Island until he moved to Monaco (see the house's sales brochure and its illustration in Sandgruber 2018, p.480). In 1975, the painting was dedicated to the Belvedere museum Vienna by Eugène Rothschild in his will.


1917 Künstlerhaus Wien exhibition John Quincy Adams No. 29

1986 Academy Schillerplatz Vienna, Viennese Society in Portrait, Catalog No. 39


Schaffer/Eisenburger 1986, exhibition catalog #39 (with color ill.).

APH, catalog raisonné JQA 1995, p. 156, cat.#124, fig.#87.

Roman Sandgruber, 2023, Pretty Kitty und die Frauen der Rothschilds, Molden Verlag, Vienna, 304 pp.


Until 1933 with the artist.
1933-1950 from his estate to his widow Frances Adams-Fritsch Vienna and New York.
1950 gift of Frances Adams-Fritsch to Eugène de Rothschild.
1950-1975 Eugène de Rothschild, New York and Monte Carlo.
1975 dedication to the Belvedere Vienna Inv. no. 6069