Emperor Charles in the field 1916

Three-quarter portrait standing, body turned slightly to the left, head turned to the right, looking into the distance. The emperor in field gray uniform with rapier, and decorated with several orders (including the Habsburg House Order of the Golden Fleece, and the German orders Pour le Merite and Iron Cross). Behind him a brown saddled horse before brown-gray stylized landscape background.

JQAW# P_1916_270
Oil on canvas 125 x 130 cm.
Signature: John Quincy Ɑdams 20.9. Chotrow 1916
Private collection House of Habsburg.

Karl Franz Joseph, Emperor of Austria, King of Hungary. 18.1.1887 Persenbeug to 1.4.1922 Madeira, Portugal. For his biography see the entry in the OeBL.
Opinions and judgments about probably no Habsburg ruler, despite his short reign, are as strong and contradictory as about Emperor Charles I. They range from the anecdotally reported scathing judgment of the outgoing prime minister Ernest von Körber in 1916 ("Emperor Charles is 30 years old, looks like a 20-year-old and thinks like a 10-year-old") to his beatification by the Catholic Church in 2004. The youth and probably also inexperience of the ruler and the difficult time of the war led to numerous efforts for his representative representation, above all in the form of portraits and published photos. All available forces were involved: from the iconic photographs of the family and the Hungarian royal coronation made by Dora Kallmus to a series of portraits by more than a dozen painters (and also a female painter, Erni [Ernestine] von Hüttenbrenner).

The four portraits (with several variations and formats) of Archduke/Emperor Charles I that Adams made in 1916-1917 should also be seen in this context of increased demand. As the comparison of images (see cross-references) shows, these portraits are practically identical and were rather not created in a formal session, but were likely painted or completed in the studio after a portrait sketch, or perhaps even after a photograph. The actual portrait of the Archduke and later Emperor is practically identical in all the paintings (3/4 portrait, posture, line of vision, face), only the uniform, medals and background vary (see overview below). The portraits also largely correspond to the depiction of Archduke Karl in the large painting Kaiserjägerhuldigung (minor differences are probably due to the completion of the painting by another hand).

The present portrait of Emperor Charles in the field (with horse) exists in (at least?) two copies, which probably differ only in their dimensions (125 x130 cm) and (ca. 200 x 200 cm?). Their existence is documented by correspondence of Otto von Habsburg's secretariat with the Society of Friends of Fine Arts Vienna from 1986. An exact identification of the differences of the portraits as well as their provenance was not possible, since the present House of Habsburg (in contrast to their ancestors, who were consistently interested in art) did not respond to any inquiries in this regard from the catalog editor nor from Adam's descendants.

The present portrait is dated 20.9.1916 Chotorow, which may be a mistake on Adam's part, since a visit by Archduke Charles (after 21 November 1916 Emperor Charles) to the Galician border town of Chotorow (today's Chodoriv, Ukraine) is documented only between 1 and 18 August 1916. In Adam's file of the war press quarters (Österr. Staatsarchiv AT-OeStA/KA, FA, AOK, KPQ, Akten Kt. 26,) a handwritten letter of Adams with the main stations of his work during the war has been preserved. In it he states that in August 1916 he was summoned to Chotorow by Archduke Karl and commissioned to paint a large-scale painting (Kaiserjägerhuldigung). He then went to South Tyrol for 8 weeks for study purposes for that painting and then returned to Vienna to work off several commissions from the Archduke/Emperor (copies of his portrait of Emperor Franz Josef I, as well as a "representative" portrait [probably "Emperor Charles in the field"] of Emperor Karl and a portrait intended for the Berg Isel Museum "Archduke Charles as Colonel of the Tyrolean Kaiserjäger"). Therefore the Adams portraits of Archduke/Emperor Karl were probably all done in his studio in Vienna, and the designation Chotorow 20.9.1916 probably refers to the date of Adams' meeting with the Archduke (20.8.1916?), or the beginning of the execution of the portrait.

The present portrait is essentially similar to the other portraits of Archduke/Emperor Charles; in the present picture, the Archduke/Emperor wears only two additional medals (the German Pour le Merite and the Iron Cross with black and white ribbon on the uniform buttonhole, probably to emphasize the alliance with the German ally, which was rather fragile. (Adams portrayed, for example, the German General Cramon on the Dolomite front, who acted as a "watch dog" for the k.u.k. army.) The background is also different, dominated here by a brown horse. (In the war propaganda it is called the favorite horse of the emperor, although according to existing sources he did not care much about horses).

The first exhibition of the portrait is documented for 18 January 1917 at the Bolzano War Picture Exhibition, where also reproduction color prints 60x60 cm were already sold (Bozner Nachrichten 18.1.1917 no. 3, p.4). From 25.2.1917 on the picture was exhibited at the collective exhibition Adams/Ohmann in the Künstlerhaus in Vienna (Deutsches Volksblatt 25.2.1917 p.11). In the exhibition catalog the picture is listed as "Portrait of His Imperial and Royal Apostolic Majesty Emperor Charles I as Army Commander" as position 1 with reference that it is in the possession of the Empress (Zita). Interestingly, the entry in Einlaufbuch (entry log book) of the Künstlerhaus (EL 61 1916/17 #646) reads "Reproduction of Portrait of his Majesty " with insurance value of only 20 crowns (which can only refer to the 60x60 cm art reproduction). The original is not registered.

A second (probably smaller) version of the painting remained in the artist's possession, as evidenced by a studio photograph with the painting from 1925-1929 (see blog entry “In the Studio with Adams”). From the comparison with the portrait of Countess Karoly (187x175) standing on an easel in front of it, it can be concluded that the size is about 130x130 cm, which corresponds to the painting shown in the 1986 exhibition (125x130 cm). It is also documented that the heiress of the Adams estate, Countess Walderdorff, sent a box of Adams paintings with portraits of members of the imperial house to the House of Habsburg in 1949 (via the Hohenberg family, to whose Viennese Palais Reisnerstrasse 53 the paintings were sent in 1949). In 1962 a portrait of Emperor Charles dated September 1916 is documented (BDA Zl. 711/62) to have been exported to Pöcking, Germany, the residence of Otto von Habsburg, from where the painting (125 x 130 cm) was made available for the 1986 Adams exhibition, which therefore is in all likelihood the copy Adams made of “Emperor Charles in the field” and that was part of the artist’s estate.

The second portrait of Emperor Charles mentioned in the 1986 letter from Otto von Habsburg's secretariat is described as being of larger format (probably 200 x200 cm) and located in Vienna, Palais Schwarzenberg (on loan to the Paneuoropa Union); no further details are given. It is likely that this painting is the portrait of Emperor Charles as army commander owned by Empress Zita of the 1917 Adams Exhibition. (However, it is also possible that it is a copy of the 1917 Portrait in Gala Uniform [235 x 146] from the Belvedere.) As the copy of the 1916 portrait of Emperor Franz Josef I (after the 1914 original) shows, only minor differences between the original and the copy are to be expected. In view of the uncertainties and lack of pictorial documentation, this Adam's work (Emperor Charles as Army Commander, ca. 200x200 cm, model for the portrait Emperor Charles in the Field, 125x130 cm) is provisionally not listed as a separate entry in the catalog raisonné.


1916 Bolzano War Picture Exhibition.
1917 Künstlerhaus Vienna collective exhibition John Quincy Adams No. 1 (no entry in EL).
1986 Academy Schillerplatz Vienna, Viennese Society in Portrait, Catalog No. 37.


Schaffer/Eisenburger 1986, exhibition catalog #37 (with b/w ill.).

APH, catalog raisonné JQA 1995, p. 155, cat.#123, fig.#86.


Estate of the artist.
1949 from Harriet Walderdorff via Family Hohenberg to House Habsburg, Austria.
1962 export to Pöcking, Germany (BDA Zl. 711/62).
Villa Austria Pöcking until 1986 or 2011 (death of Otto Habsburg) or 2014 (new use by software company).
House Habsburg, current location unknown.

Overview of Adams portraits of Archduke / Emperor Charles I.

Emperor Charles in the field
(Emperor Charles as Army Commander)

copy after 1916?
(September-December 1916)

125 x 130 cm
(200 x 200 cm?)

Estate of the artist.
1949 to House of Habsburg c/o Hohenberg, Vienna.
1962 export to Pöcking (Germany).
Casa Austria Pöcking to 1986 or 2011/2014.
House of Habsburg, current location unknown.

(1917 Empress Zita.
House of Habsburg, Austria. per 1986: on loan to Paneuropa Union Vienna, Palais Schwarzenberg. House of Habsburg, current location unknown. )

Archduke Charles as Colonel of the Tyrolean Kaiserjäger

Fall 1916

Dimensions unknown
(portrait format)

1917 private collection (Kaiserjäger exhibition Innsbruck), likely House of Habsburg, Austria.
?-1993 Archduchess Elisabeth (von und zu Liechtenstein), Waldstein Castle.
House of Habsburg,
current location unknown.

Archduke Charles in the large painting "Kaiserjägerhuldigung"

Begun autumn 1916, not completed

223 x 325 cm (entire painting)

Kaiserjägermuseum Berg Isel, Innsbruck

Emperor Charles in Gala Uniform


235 x 146 cm

1917 Kaiserl. Gemäeldegalerie.
1921 KHM, Vienna.
1949 Belvedere Vienna, Inv.#3718.