Duschnitz children group portrait 1905


For description s. text below.

JQAW# P_1905_010
Oil on canvas 165 x 140 cm
Signature: John Quincy Ɑdams 905
Unknown private collection (likely USA)
Photo: courtesy Shannon's Milford, CT USA.

Group portrait with five children, 3 boys and 2 girls. The girls, all in white dresses and with hair bows, the boys in sailor suits, the youngest in a white dress and with short hair. The blond children are grouped around the central oldest (dark-haired) boy, who is dressed in a black sailor suit with a burgundy bow, sitting on a club sofa, holding a picture book on his lap and pointing to a picture with his right hand and index finger, his head lowered to read. To his right is the second boy in a white sailor suit with a navy blue bow, his hands clasped behind his back, looking directly at the viewer. To the left of the seated boy, a boy in white dress shown in side view stands and looks interestedly at the picture book. A girl sits on the sofa, her arm resting on the backrest, looking directly at the viewer. Behind her the eldest girl is standing, the upper part of the body slightly turned, the view directed towards the viewer. Interior represented by a Persian carpet lying on the floor, a green velvet club sofa, a wall in brown tones in the background, on which two pictures are indicated.

The group portrait was sold in an auction in the USA in 2021 under the appropriate picture title "story time". Information about the provenance and the sitters was completely missing. In the course of research, it was possible to determine the identity of the children: on the one hand, through stylistic similarities with the recently discovered portrait of Olga Duschnitz, and on the other hand, through a Künstlerhaus sticker (1905 3009) on the back of the painting, which, according to the registry (Einlaufbuch), is described as “group of children (Regierungsrat Duschnitz)” and which was exhibited at the Vienna Künstlerhaus in 1905. The children depicted are those of Carl (1858-1914) and Olga (née Grünblatt, 1871-1950) Duschnitz of Vienna. From left to right: Hansi (Johanna Margarethe, 1899-1974 seated), Stefi (Stephanie, 1896-??, standing), Franz (1901-1989, in white dress), Felix (1895-1956, black sailor suit), and Erich (1900-1980, white sailor suit) Duschnitz. Carl Duschnitz was a wealthy industrialist and shareholder of the Lieser and Duschnitz hemp wool spinning mill in Pöchlarn (which continued to exist as HITIAG Hanfindustrie- und Textilit-Industrie A.G. until 2006). He was awarded several medals and the title of imperial councilor. He was a relative (second cousin; his father Bernhard was the cousin of Adolph Duschnitz, the father of Willibald D.) of the better known art collector and owner of the Villa Duschnitz, remodeled by Adolf Loos, Willibald Duschnitz (1884-1976), whose wife Jenka Duschnitz (1886-1967) was portrayed by Adams in 1920 (see their catalog entry and the cross-references). Adams portrayed Carl Duschnitz in 1909 and also exhibited the portrait in Wiener Künstlerhaus (KH EL 1909/10 #2403). However, that portrait seems lost. His wife Olga Duschnitz, in turn, was likely portrayed at the same time as the children in 1905 (see cross-references), but the picture was never exhibited, but is documented (s. cross-references). The Duschnitz siblings were endangered after 1938 despite having left the Jewish congregation in Vienna (between 1921 [Erich] to 1938 [Felix]). The sisters Hansi (married Neurath von Neudenegg) and Stefie (married Schönbichler) were somehow protected by their husbands and remained in Vienna (Hansi, however, emigrated to Brazil after the war, but later returned). The three brothers went abroad, returned (briefly) to Vienna/Austria after the war, but all died abroad. Franz and Erich (who changed his name to Eric C Dunston) died in Paris, Felix (who also changed his name to Dunston) died in New York. However, Franz, Erich/Eric and Hansi are reunited with their parents Carl and Olga and the grandparents Bernhard and Katharina in the Duschnitz family crypt at Döbling Cemetery in Vienna.

This charming group portrait of the Duschnitz children is one of Adams' best depictions of children. It captivates through the particularly careful composition, the tension between distance to the viewer (focus on the picture book) and closeness to him (through eye contact), as well as the color contrasts: white-black in the clothing, light-dark between the children and the picture background. The interior shows that the picture was created in Adam's studio at Theresianumgasse 5. All the more remarkable is the natural posture of the children and the individuality of their portraits. The painting probably came to the USA with the descendants from the first marriage of Erich Duschnitz/Eric Dunston, where it later found its way to the art trade and then to the auction. The current owner of the charming painting is unknown, as usual with art sold at auction.


1905 Künstlerhaus Vienna (EL 46 1906/06 #3009)



Duschnitz family Vienna and Paris.
Family descendants after Erich Duschnitz/Eric Dunston, USA.
2001 Butler Fine Art, New Canaan, CT, USA.
Unknown private collection, USA.
2021 Shannon's Milfort, CT USA, Auction 29.4.2021 Lot 24.
Unknown private collection, likely USA.