Jenka Duschnitz 1920

Breast portrait oil sketch en face, looking toward the viewer. The sitter, with prominent, beautifully arched eyebrows and blue eyes, wears a light white silk dress with a wide v-shaped neckline and bordered hem. The dark hair is pinned up. Portrait in the background emphasized by application of strong blue color in the upper half of the picture.

JQAW# P_1920_040
Oil on canvas, portrait oval ca. 100 x 85 cm
Signature: John Quincy Ɑdams 1920
Private collection Austria

Jenka Duschnitz, née Loeff, remarried Ferrière 27.7.1886 Holleschau/Holešov (CZ) to 8.5.1967 Geneva; Piano player, socialite, and resident of an architectural icon.
"Look there passes Duschnitz...He drives himself.... - Who is that? - You don't know him? The one with the beautiful wife and the organ." (Die Stunde August 4, 1925, p. 5).
Jenka was always known as a beautiful woman. But this beautiful woman was also a trained pianist. When Willibald Duschnitz (1884-1976) arrived in Holleschau (today: Holešov ) on his military volunteer year in 1906 with his regiment (Schwarzenberg Uhlans), he heard her playing the piano ... and fell in love with her musicality ... and with her. The couple married June 25, 1907 in Holleschau, and in 1910 their daughter Eva (married Chipman, 1910-1999) was born. In 1916, the pioneering Austrian architect Adolf Loos completed the famous music room in the Villa Duschnitz in the Cottage in Vienna. The instruments were also avant-garde: the Walcker organ featured the innovative Organola technology and the concert grand piano was from the German brand Feurich. Industrialist Willibald Duschnitz was an amateur organist and composer, and his art collection was legendary (see Chipman and Weidinger, 2014). While husband Willibald and daughter Eva composed modern songs, Jenka preferred classical music, but not exclusively. She played chamber music with many different Viennese artists, notably the later world-famous violonist Erica Morini or the prominent Hungarian pianist Louis Kentner. Also composer Erich Wolfgang Korngold was a guest as well as opera singers Louise von Fraenkel-Ehrenstein, Selma Kurz (see her Adams portrait and catalog entry) and Marie Gutheil-Schoder. On her trips to Paris, Jenka visited composer Maurice Ravel. Jenka was also a brilliant hostess and maintained an international circle of dazzling friends throughout her life.

(See the excursus on Jenka Duschnitz's circle of friends).

In 1922 Jenka and Eva Duschnitz converted to Catholicism. In the mid-1920s, Jenka fell in love with the Swiss physician Dr. Louis Ferrière (1887-1963). Her marriage to Willibald Duschnitz was amicably divorced on April 26, 1926, and on April 30, 1926, Jenka and Louis were married in the HB Protestant Church in Vienna. Jenka, daughter Eva and Dr. Louis Ferrière remained living in the Villa Duschnitz (Willibald Duschnitz resigned from the Jewish faith and moved into a new apartment at Getreidemarkt. With this change in his living situation, he also reorganized and expanded his famous art collection). Art and architecture lovers were allowed to visit the villa and the art collection since 1922 with the permission of the Federal Monuments Office. So Jenka and Louis were often the 'hosts' during the visits. Adolf Loos also sent architecture-loving visitors. Such an enriching life in Vienna came to an end in 1936, when the Ferrière couple moved to Paris. With the outbreak of war in 1939, they moved to Geneva. (Willibald Duschnitz had to emigrate in 1938. Via England and France he reached Brazil, where he was again successful as an entrepreneur). The "world of yesterday" (Stefan Zweig) had passed. In 1947 Jenka and Louis separated. Luis emigrated to the USA. Although Jenka tried to build a career as a pianist in Switzerland after the war, it was too late. The last years of her life passed quietly between Geneva and regular visits to Kitzbühel. In 1958 her first great-grandchild Francesco was born. Jenka died in Geneva on May 8, 1967. Her and her family's memory is kept alive on a memorial stone at Vienna Central Cemetery, where she is reunited with her first husband Willibald and daughter Eva.

The portrait of Jenka Duschnitz, painted in 1920, captivates through the immediacy of an oil sketch focusing on the face of the portrayed. Unusually for Adams, the background of the painting is a strong blue (which in Adams's later phase took on more and more subdued colors and ultimately showed only a white canvas background) and which he probably chose as a counterpoint to Jenka's radiant blue eyes. Although never publicly exhibited, the portrait was familiar to the Viennese art world, and the portrait was praised by one critic ("L.v.H.") for "its freshness and beauty of color" (Wiener Salonblatt November 11, 1928, p.17). The painting remained with Jenka and after her death with her family descendants. The Adams portrait of Jenka made a striking appearance in 2013. The auction house Christie's Vienna organized an evening in honor of the Willibald Duschnitz art collection. As a speaker's platform for Jenka's grandson Dr. Harold Chipman and provenance researcher Mag. Leonhard Weidinger, a 'Viennese salon corner' was erected around the portrait ... a beautiful tribute to the beautiful woman mentioned in the opening quote of the Die Stunde newspaper.

Catalog entry: Harold Chipman (grandson of the sitter).


2013 Christie's Vienna, The Art Collection of Willibald Duschnitz.


Her family descendants,
Private collection, Austria.