Baroness Irma Villani 1924

3/4 Portrait of a standing lady, with her right hand holding a gold-colored curtain. The sitter wears a sleeveless pink dress belted around her waist. Jewelry: double row pearl necklace, a ring on her left hand, a blue shimmering bracelet on her right forearm and matching earrings. Picture background: abstract color surface, structured by brushstrokes.

JQAW# P_1924_090
Oil on canvas 130 x 86 cm
Signature: John Quincy Ɑdams 1924
Unknown private collection (Austria?)
Image: friendly communication Auktionshaus im Kinsky Vienna

Irma Baroness Villani (also: Villány), née Klastersky Edle von Festenstamm, 9.4.1883 Vienna to 29.1.1971 (burial) Vienna. Golf acquaintance of the artist.

This painting, sold at a Viennese auction in 1995 as Lady in Pink, was identified by its Künstlerhaus exhibition label 1924 2305 at the back as portrait of Baroness Irma Villany.

Little information is known about her life from public sources. Irma was born in 1883 into a family of the k.u.k. Military officers, the Kladersky Edle von Festenstamm. After attending the Vienna Women's Academy, she married Dr. Friedrich Freiherr (Baron) von Villani von Castello Pinonico, who worked in the Royal Hungarian Gubernium administration in Fiume, on April 17, 1907 in the Karlskirche in Vienna. (The latter was active in the diplomatic service of Hungary after the end of the monarchy and called himself Frederik Baron Villány after 1918). The couple may have separated soon, since Irma maintained her own residence in Vienna IV Wohllebengasse 5 since 1912 (until 1933). The divorce probably took place in the 1920s, since Baron Frederik Villány is mentioned in press reports as early as 1929 as a marriage candidate of the Hungarian actress and singer (and 1922-1925 short-term wife of the writer Ferenc Molnár) Sári Fedák (Frederik Villány remarried to Mrs. Sylvia Petrococchino in Vienna on 4.4.1936). Irma's social life during the monarchy period was upper middle class: spa stays in Bad Ischl and Karlsbad, participation in balls and visits to the Vienna Derby, where her toilets are reported, as well as charitable activities, such as caring for wounded soldiers during WWI, are documented.

After the war, she appears less in public, only her passion for golf is reported several times. After giving up her residence at Wohllebengasse 5 around 1934, the sources about Irma Villani dry up. A name change due to remarriage could be the reason. Only her death is on record again: her burial took place on 29.1.1971 in the family grave of the Klastersky's at the Vienna Central Cemetery under the name Irma Villani.

The portrait of Irma Villani fully corresponds to the late style of the artist: color-in-color scheme, abstract (except for the suggested curtain) background and staging of the portrayed as a modern woman in the style of the "roaring twenties". The portrait was probably created in the course of the acquaintance of the two golf enthusiasts (a joint participation in a golf tournament in 1929 is documented in newspaper reports) and was possibly more an act of friendship than a formal portrait commission. In any case, Adams must have been very satisfied with the painting because he exhibited it at the Vienna Künstlerhaus in 1924, a practice that became increasingly rare in his later phase, and which came to a complete standstill after 1929 when he moved to the United States.



1924 Künstlerhaus Vienna (EL 72 1923/24 #2305)



1995 auction Wiener Kunstauktionen (Kinsky) 29.9.1995 Lot 185 (as Lady in Pink).
Unknown private collection (Austria?).