Ludwig Urban Junior 1924


Half portrait standing, en face, looking directly at the viewer. The bald sitter in black suit and tie is standing at a side table and has his right hand resting on the open pages of a book/manuscript, his left hand is in his jacket pocket. Background abstractly designed as a textured wall surface in graduated beige tones.

JQAW# P_1924_070
Oil on canvas 135 x 88 cm
Signature: John Quincy Ɑdams 1924.
Haus der Industrie, Vienna.

Ludwig "Vicky" Urban Junior 16.8.1876 Vienna to 13.3.1946 Vienna, industrialist and politician of the authoritarian Austrian Ständestaat until 1938. See also his entry in the OeBL.

Ludwig Urban was born into a well-known industrialist family. His grandfather Anton I. Urban (1827-1855) converted his father Ignaz's nail smithy and began producing screws, which his sons Ludwig Urban Senior (1854-1923) and Anton II. Urban (1852-1906) expanded to a leading screw factory, supplying mainly the locomotive construction industry. In 1899/1900, the company merged with the Brevillier screw factory to form Brevillier & Urban, which was managed by the Urban family (Ludwig Urban Senior, Junior, and Anton III Urban 1881-1946) which became a leading company in the monarchy. In 1924, the Zeus pencil factory founded by Brevillier was merged with the Gösting pencil factory in Graz, which was acquired by purchase, and the Brevillier Urban pencil brand became a household name among all schoolchildren in the country. Since 1965, pencils and colored pencils have been sold under the Jolly brand, which is also widely known in Austria. The company continues to exist under the name Brevillier Urban & Sachs and has also integrated the Austrian production facilities of the bankrupt Hardtmuth pencil factory in Hirm. Thus, the two leading manufacturers (both portrayed by Adams, see cross-references) of pencils of the monarchy and post-war period were united in one company and continue to produce, whereas the once much more important Brevillier Urban screw production, from which the Urban family had already withdrawn after the war, no longer exists since the 1980s.

Ludwig "Vicky" Urban graduated from high school and studied at the Technical University in Vienna. After an internship in his father's company and after several study visits abroad, he became a member of the board of directors and in 1910 vice president of Brevillier & Urban. In 1916-1918 he was called up for military service and from 1917 headed economic units in the War Ministry. He was also active in professional associations and a member of numerous boards of directors (holding supervisory board mandates). In 1906 he was a co-founder of the Vienna Industrialists' Association, its chairman until 1921 and then its honorary president. He was also president of the Federation of Austrian Industry (the forerunner of today's Federation of Industrialists) and mediated in the great metalworkers' strike of 1924. Politically, he supported the Christian Social Party and financed its paramilitary Heimwehr, the counter-militia to the (left-wing) Republican Protection League, thus contributing to the increasing polarization of politics in Austria, which led to civil war-like conditions in 1934, the elimination of parliament, and the establishment of the authoritarian Ständestaat, which banned all political opposition. The political division of the country soon led to Austria's downfall: occupation by German troops in 1938, the so-called "Anschluss" to Germany, followed by the onset of persecution of political dissidents as well as Jews. Ludwig Urban Jun. was a leading politician of the Ständestaat. From 1934 he was a member of the State Council and from 1936 a member of the Austrian Parliament; in 1937 he also met Adolf Hitler as a member of an Austrian delegation. After the Anschluss, he lost all political and association offices (but remained largely unchallenged by the Nazis). However, he continued to act as chairman of the supervisory board of the family business, which was converted to wartime production during World War II and employed numerous forced laborers.

As a private person, "Vicky" Urban led an aristocratic lifestyle and was a horse freak. He owned a villa in the Pratercottage (Laufbergergasse 12) and in 1917 acquired Schloss Tribuswinkel, which he remodeled and where he ran his horse breeding business. He also owned a villa on Lake Wörthersee (Villa Miralago) and a forestry and hunting estate in Styria ( its so-called cold water hut was captured in a painting by Karl Ludwig Prinz in 1913). He was a regular visitor to horse races, where his horses won numerous prizes (e.g. in 1918 "Reichenau" won the Darby and "Javornik" the Trial Stakes), and since 1913 he was a member of the Jockey Club, where he held important positions. In 1927 he gave up horse breeding, but kept his interest in equestrian sports. His personal circumstances, however, also contained tragedy. His first wife "Stanzy" (Anna Constanze Urban, née Schiebl, 1878-1910, see her entry in Pratercottage blog) died young of tuberculosis, His son "Lutzy" from his first marriage died in 1924 while crossing to America by ship. He re-married in 1911 with Getrud "Gerti", née Eissler (1885-1960), who donated Tribuswinkel Castle to the municipality of Vienna in 1958, in order to found there the "Ludwig Urban Kindererholungsheim" (Ludwig Urban Children's Recreation Home). (This existed until 1988. Since 1991 the castle has been owned by the municipality of Traiskirchen and houses, among other things, a kindergarten). Ludwig Urban died in Vienna in 1946. His memory is kept alive by the "Ludwig Urban Meeting Room" in the building of the Austrian Federation of Industry at Schwarzenbergplatz in Vienna.

The portrait of Ludwig Urban, painted in 1924, was commissioned by the Federation of Austrian Industry, which wanted to honor its president with it. The painting remained in the possession of the Association and its successor organization and is still housed in the Haus der Industrie Wien. Stylistically it is rather conventional, taking up the formal language of traditional portraits of gentlemen (book as a symbol of erudition and wisdom). Only the abstract color surface of the picture's background lends the portrait a modern touch and is characteristic of Adam's late phase.

Acknowledgments: Kind communications from Christopher Wentworth-Stanley (Jockey Club) and from Eva Maria Mandl (Pratercottage blog) provided important biographical information.


1924 Künstlerhaus Vienna (EL 72 1923/24 #2308).

1986 Akademie Schillerplatz Wien, Viennese society in portrait, catalogue Nr. 52


Schaffer/Eisenburger 1986, exhibition catalog #52 (no ill.)

APH, catalog raisonné JQA 1995, p. 194, cat.#157, ill.#105, there listed as "gentleman portrait" and not identified.


Since 1924 Austrian Federation of Industrialists and precursor organizations.
Haus der Industrie, Vienna.