Front visit of Archduke Karl with Kaiserjäger troops, greeted by them with jubilation. Archduke Karl is in the center of the picture, wearing a field-gray uniform with dagger at his side, holding a walking stick in his right hand, looking sideways. Behind him stand two officers of his staff. In the left foreground of the picture, cheering Kaiserjäger in full equipment, wave their caps. One soldier is not looking at the Archduke, but curiously towards the viewer (or the painter). In the right foreground August Fischer von See (with bold head) and two officers in pike-grey (blue) field uniform are shown, their right hands raised, waving their caps, behind them further cheering Kaiserjäger soldiers. In the picture background in the center a brass band. The scene is set in a high alpine landscape with rocky mountains and slopes which are covered by sparse trees.
The monumental painting documents a front-line visit by Archduke Karl (from November 1916 Emperor Karl) to the 3rd Regiment of the Kaiserjäger on the Dolomite Front at the end of May/beginning of June 1916. The official designation of the painting is alternatively: "Archduke and Heir to the Throne Karl Franz Josef, commander of the XX. Corps, visits the 3. Kaiserjäger Regiment in Val della Lazza after the May offensive 1916" (Kaiserjägermuseum) or "Homage to the Heir of the Throne during the offensive on June 4th 1916 by the 3. Kaiserjäger Regiment in Val Lanzi" (catalogue Adams exhibition Künstlerhaus Wien 1917). As a short title "Kaiserjäger homage" has established itself for the painting. The front visit took place after the so-called May Offensive (also Battle of Asiago) of the k.u.k. troops on the Dolomite front in Italy to relieve the Isonzo front in Slovenia (see the detailed Wikipedia entry on these wartime events). Adams did not conceal the consequences of the battle in the jubilant scene: two wounded soldiers wear head bandages. The numerous casualties of the offensive are naturally not in the picture. The Kaiserjäger were infantry troops recruited mainly from the Tyrol and Vorarlberg provinces. Their ceremonial highest commander was always the emperor (Kaiser), who also appointed personally the ceremonial second commander (usually the heir to the throne) and the highest actual commanders.
The painting was commissioned by Archduke (as of November 1916 Emperor) Karl in August 1916 and was created post factum in the fall of 1916 during an 8-week stay of Adams on the Dolomite front and in Innsbruck, where the (unfinished) painting also remained. It was begun with numerous sketches, but never completed by Adams. From the sketches it can be seen that besides the homage picture a second monumental painting was planned, where the Archduke decorates deserved Kaiserjäger after the battle, but this second painting was never executed. Of the sketches, 9 head studies of Kaiserjägers (4 of which were actually used in the painting), as well as a study of Colonel Fischer von See have been preserved in the Kaiserjägermuseum Innsbruck (see cross-references). The remaining sketches are lost. According to the signature, the painting was restored and completed by the painter Lois Alton in 1935. Alton's contribution to the painting can be seen above all in the shadowy and poorly detailed soldiers in the back rows and the brass band. After this commission, Adams received further commissions for portraits of Archuke (Emperor) Charles, but these were most probably executed in his studio in Vienna in the winter of 1916/1917.
APH, catalog raisonné JQA 1995, p. 147, cat.#115 (no ill.).
from the artist directly to
Kaiserjägermuseum Berg Isel, Innsbruck Inv.Nr. KJ/372.