Johann II. Prince Liechtenstein 1908


For picture description see below.

JQAW# P_1908_040
Oil on canvas 134 x 119 cm
Signature: John Quincy Ɑdams 1908.
Liechtenstein Princely Collections Vaduz-Vienna GE1161
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons,
for a more color-true image of the original, dominated by red-brown tones, see the online Liechtenstein collection

¾ Portrait in a slightly side-ways view in a sitting position, the legs crossed, the hands crossed in the lap, looking past the viewer into the distance. The prince is dressed in a black tailcoat, around his neck the Habsburg House Order of the Golden Fleece, on his chest the Great Star of the Royal Hungarian Order of Saint Stephen (the highest civilian award of the monarchy). He is seated on a high armchair covered with red brocade, the head of which is heavily ornamented. Behind the sitter, a tapestry curtain hangs, on which the coat of arms of Liechtenstein can be seen. In the left background of the picture a palace interior with a white and gold wall paneling and a red salon set with a round table is shown.

Johann II von und zu Liechtenstein 5.10.1840 Eisgrub/Lednice CZ to 11.2. 1929 Feldsberg/Valtice CZ, reigning prince, patron of the arts and sciences.
See his entries in the OeBL and in the Historischen Lexikon Liechtenstein.
Already at the age of 18 Johann II. L. succeeded his father Aloys II (1796-1858). After a thorough scientific education and extensive educational travels (during which he entrusted his mother Franziska with the affairs of state), he personally assumed the regency in 1860, which lasted 71 years from the time of his succession, i.e. even longer than that of Emperor Franz Josef I. In 1862 he enacted Liechtenstein's first constitutional constitution, and in 1921, after the disintegration of the Habsburg Monarchy, a constitution on a parliamentary-democratic basis was negotiated. Otherwise, his reign was rather passive; he also paid only a few shorter visits to the Principality (the Princes of Liechtenstein have resided permanently in Vaduz only since 1938). Johann II spent most of his time either traveling or on his enormously large estates in what is now Czechoslovakia at the castles of Eisgrub and Feldsberg, as well as in Vienna. His interests were mainly science and art. He carried out a reorganization of the princely picture gallery and considerably expanded it through purchases. Generous donations of paintings to the Academy and the City of Vienna made him the leading patron of the arts of his time, a patronage he also demonstrated through large endowments to the University of Vienna, the Academy of Sciences (honorary member in 1889), and for the establishment of the fruit and horticultural school in Eisgrub named after Gregor Friedrich Mendel. He also redesigned a number of family estates, including the renovation and reconstruction in Romanesque style of the Liechtenstein ancestral castle near Mödling and the castle in Vaduz. As a person he is described as reclusive, but was characterized by extensive charitable and social care, which earned him the nickname "The Good". He remained unmarried. However, Prince John II was also a child of his time and class with all their conceits and prejudices. He opposed the union of his brother and successor Franz I with the (since 1908) widowed Jewish convert (1899) Elsa (Elisabeth) von Gutmann (1875-1947), married Baroness Erős von Bethlenfalva. The two could not marry until 1929 after the death of Johann II.

The portrait of Johann II. Liechtenstein was commissioned by the City of Vienna from Adams in 1908 on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the reign of the Prince. It was intended for display in the so-called Liechtenstein Room of the municipal collections and was intended to honor the prince as a patron of the arts. The painting caused a great sensation (probably also because it was known that the Prince generally avoided portraits and any public appearances) and was widely discussed and published (what contemporary work could trigger such broad coverage?). The Liechtenstein Portrait brought Adams his breakthrough as a leading portrait painter of the distinguished and aristocratic society of Vienna. It is probable that Adams did not create the picture in a formal portrait session but on the basis of studies at the Palais Liechtenstein in Vienna (see cross-references) in the absence of the prince and according to models (the individual areas of the picture seem little integrated and rather "put together"), a procedure he had already chosen in 1903 for the Künstlerhaus Stifterportrait of Prince Metternich-Winneburg, which was done post mortem. The prince is likely to have appreciated his portrait much, however, since he had himself photographed at an advanced age in in identical staging (clothing, medals, identical chair). The picture remained in the municipal collections (Wien Museum) until 1979 and was then given in exchange (for a portrait of Crown Prince Rudolf by Franz von Lenbach painted in 1873) to the Liechtenstein Princely Collections in Vaduz. According to unconfirmed reports, it hangs in the Liechtenstein government building, so it is semi-publicly accessible. The image rights of the original were not available (for financial reasons) for this catalog (image here from Wikimedia Commons). The color scheme of the original is dominated by dark reds and browns, which gives the image much more the character of an Old Master painting (the lighter, gray-toned Wikimedia image, on the other hand, makes it easier to see details). The original image can be viewed at the online Liechtenstein collection.


1909 Künstlerhaus Vienna (EL 53 1909/10 #1574).


APH, catalog raisonné JQA 1995, p. 94, cat.#63, fig.#45


1908 From artist to city of Vienna.
1908-1979 Wien Museum.
1979 1979 exchange with
Liechtenstein Princely Collections Vaduz-Vienna GE1161.