Emperor Franz Josef I 1914
Three-quarter portrait in sitting position. The 84-year-old emperor is sitting on a white-red-gold baroque armchair, his hands resting on his thighs. He wears his characteristic white-blond whiskers, his head is bald, his face shows age-related wrinkles. The emperor wears a field marshal uniform with blue skirt and golden buttons, black pants with wide double red lanterns. The chest is decorated with medals, around the neck the Habsburg Order of the Golden Fleece.
Oil on canvas 107,5 x 83 cm.
Signature: John Quincy Ɑdams Schönbrunn I. 1914.
Belvedere Vienna Inv.No. 2633.
Franz Joseph I Emperor of Austria, King of Hungary. 18. 8. 1830 (Vienna-Schönbrunn) to 21. 11. 1916 (Vienna-Schönbrunn). For biography see the entry in the OeBL.
The painting is probably one of the last portraits of the old emperor made in a personal session (and not according to a model or photograph), to which the emperor likely only agreed to because of his personal acquaintance with Adams (the emperor allegedly hated portrait sessions mainly because of the then customary lengthy measurement of facial proportions, which Adams probably never did after his studies).
This acquaintance between the emperor and the artist stems from the Vienna Künstlerhaus, whose exhibitions the emperor regularly visited (and where he also personally acquired numerous works of art). There the emperor also met Adams (encounters in 1907, 1910 and 1911, where Adams personally presented his work "Chaconne" to the emperor, are documented). In these depictions, it is evident how Adams moved more and more into the center to the emperor, reflecting his rise in the Künstlerhaus hierarchy. In 1914, Adams held the office of deputy director (together with fellow painter Heinrich von Angeli, who was well connected in court circles, as director), and the portrait session was probably facilitated during the emperor's visit to the annual exhibition at the Künstlerhaus in 1914.
The following anecdote has been passed down from Adam's descendants: pleasantly surprised by Adam's quick painting style and his habit of entertaining the portrayed with light and fun conversation (and thus getting them to adopt as natural a posture as possible), the emperor is said to have suggested an ennoblement for Adams, which he rejected. He was then awarded the title of professor by the emperor in 1916. The picture was purchased by the artist in 1915 for the imperial collections and also reproduced for official use by the Hofkunstanstalt J. Löwy in 1915. In 1916 Adams made another (unsigned) copy of the painting, which is also in the Belvedere.
The Emperor and Adams 1907 --- Meeting 1910 --- In conversation with the Emperor 1911.
Cross-references1916 copy of the original portrait
Künstlerhaus Vienna 1914, No. 24.
Academy Schillerplatz Vienna 1986, Viennese Society in Portrait, Catalog No. 27.
Schaffer/Eisenburger 1986, exhibition catalog #27 (with color illustration).
APH, catalog raisonné JQA 1995, p. 120, cat.#88, fig.#62.
1915 Purchase from the artist. Imperial Collections.
1927 Transfer to the Belvedere Vienna, Inv.No. 2633.