Dr. Heinrich XXXIX Prince Reuss 1925
Almost full-length portrait in oblique view and in sitting position, the legs crossed, with both hands embracing his left knee, the head slightly inclined, looking at the viewer. The sitter wears a gray sporty suit with knickerbockers and gray stockings, a white shirt and white pocketkerchief, and a black tie; on his left ring finger he wears a gold ring. He is sitting on a fur coat spread over a chair with a stylized landscape visible in the background.
Oil on canvas 140 x 90 cm
Signature: John Quincy Ɑdams 1925
Private collection Austria
Heinrich XXXIX Prince Reuss zu Köstritz, 23.6.1891 Ernstbrunn to 24.2.1946 Salzburg. Eighth and last paragiate lord of Reuss-Köstritz.
Heinrich XXXIX was born into the old widely branched German high noble family of Reuss. (The spelling Reuß is also used often; however, the spelling Reuss is preferred by the family). Male Reuss descendants have since the time of the Stauffer emperor Heinrich VI (1165-1197) traditionally the first name Heinrich and are designated with Roman numerals (which have however no lordship or legal significance), which amounts to a secret science with the many Reuss lines and confusing number sequences. (Thus, the present Heinrich Reuss had the designation XXXIX (39), whereas his father, the composer Heinrich was designated as XXIV (24). The first-born son of Heinrich XXXIX (39), in turn, is designated as Heinrich IV (4), whereas the second-born son is designated as Heinrich VI (6). The first-born son of Heinrich IV (4) and current owner of Ernstbrunn Castle is Heinrich XIV (14) Reuss). Heinrich XXXIX descends from the so-called younger line (principality of Gera) of the Reuss and from this again from the second-born son Heinrich XXIV (1681-1748), for whom his father founded the paragium Reuss-Köstritz, whereas the title and rule as Count Reuss zu Schleiz fell by primogeniture to his older brother. (A paragium is an indemnity for non-firstborn sons and their descendants. The indemnity includes "land and people", i.e. landed property and lesser lordship rights, but no sovereignty over the land. An alternative to this would be the establishment of separate fideicomisses, as was the case, for example, in the princely family of Liechtenstein). Already at the age of 21, Henry XXXIX succeeded his father as Paragiatsherr of Reuss Köstritz. He renounced the title of prince. In addition to the estate and castle of Köstritz in Thuringia (which were expropriated in 1945; the castle was blown up in 1972), he also owned the castles and estates of Ernstbrunn and Hagenberg in Austria.
Henry XXXIX studied law and political science and graduated with a doctorate. He was also a lieutenant a la suite (a purely honorary title) in the Prussian Army, but was not on front-line duty during World War I, being assigned first to the German Embassy in Rome and, from 1915, to the Embassy in Vienna. In 1918 he married Antonia, Countess of Castell-Castell (1896-1971, see her portrait by Adams, cross-references). The marriage was blessed with 6 children. He led the lifestyle of the high aristocracy with numerous trips (already in 1912 to Ceylon/Sri Lanka and Japan, later also to the USA), changing residences at his castles Ernstbrunn and Köstritz, as well as participation in numerous social events. He also had musical interests. For example, together with four of his siblings, he played the cello at a charity concert at Köstritz Castle in 1909. He was also a member of the board of the Vienna Bibliophile Society and took part in several bibliophile conferences. He was also a member of the Masonic Lodge "Archimedes zum ewigen Bunde" in Gera and a Knight of the Order of St. John. He died of cancer in Salzburg in 1946 at the age of 54. Gravesite at the Protestant cemetery in Ernstbrunn.
His son Heinrich IV was granted Austrian citizenship in 1947; the Thuringian possessions were expropriated in 1946, and the Austrian possessions were under Soviet administration until 1955, after which they were largely devastated. After the extinction of the other Reuss lines, the Ernstbrunn line continues the House of Reuss.
The portrait of Heinrich XXXIX Reuss, painted in 1925, is characteristic of the artist's late phase. The casual posture and the sporty, elegant clothing portray Heinrich XXXIX as a "casual gentleman". Only the landscape background represents a last reminiscence of the representative stately portrait. Regarding the provenance of the painting, it is noteworthy that despite the prominence of the sitter, it was never publicly exhibited and that the painting survived the occupation of Ernstbrunn Castle by the Soviet army with only minor damage. It remains in private family ownership. However, on the occasion of the Con Anima Music Days at Ernstbrunn Castle, which continue the musical tradition of the Reuss, parts of Ernstbrunn Castle (and also the Adams portraits of Heinrich and his wife Antonia) are open to the public.
Cross-referencesAntonie Princess Reuss (wife) 1924
APH, catalog raisonné JQA 1995, p.193, cat#160, no ill.
His family descendants,
private collection Austria.