Portrait of a young lady 1915


For picture description see below.

JQAW# P_1915_090
Oil on canvas 125 x 105 cm
Signature: John Quincy Ɑdams 1915.
Paintings gallery of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna GG-1503
Image credit: Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, Paintings Gallery.

Full-length portrait in partial side view of a young lady sitting on a chair, her head supported by her left hand, looking pensively into the distance to the right. In her right hand is a letter, the envelope of which has fallen to the floor. She wears a wide green silk taffeta dress that falls to the floor, reminiscent of a crinoline, over it a short black jacket, around the head, a yellow headscarf tied at the back of the head. Behind the sitter a white, open double glass door is visible, in the right background a cabinet, on it a delicate grandfather clock, above it an oval picture on the wall are indicated.

This atmospheric painting was exhibited from 20.2. to 31.3. 1915 in the exhibition of the Watercolorists' Club in the Vienna Künstlerhaus (s. cross-references), at a time when Adams was staying in Vienna between stints at the front as a war painter in Galicia. It is possible that the artist wanted to illustrate in this genre painting the effects of the war on those at home, with whom contact was only possible by field post. Due to the war-related absence, no Adams portraits of civilian persons are documented for 1915, so for the present picture the artist probably resorted to a person from his circle of acquaintances or to a model, and merely described the work as a "portrait" (KH EL 59 1914/15 #128) at the exhibition, thus not revealing the identity of the sitter. However, the sitter is strikingly similar to the person Adams depicted in his fan sheet for the 1907 Concordia Ball (s. cross-references), indicating a long-term acquaintance between model and artist. It is possible that Adams modified/completed an existing, earlier portrait in January 1915 for the exhibition (the "5" in the signature dating 1915 appears corrected/painted over.)

The provenance of the painting is equally mysterious. It is pictured in the Adams article by Margarethe Poch-Kalous (1915-1974), director of the Academy's Paintings Gallery, which appeared posthumously in 1975, as the only painting from private ownership (Vienna) alongside works from public collections, leading to the hypothesis that Poch-Kalous herself was the owner. Later it came into the possession of the artist's daughter Countess Harriet Walderdorff, Salzburg (1905-1999). (The two ladies had been friends since their youth.) In December 1982, Countess Walderdorff donated the painting to the Academy Gallery, from which it was loaned to the 1986 Adams exhibition (#28).


1915 Künstlerhaus Wien exhibition No. 20 (EL 59 1914/15 #128).

1986 Academy Schillerplatz Vienna, Viennese Society in Portrait, Catalog No. 28.


APH, catalog raisonné JQA 1995, p. 122, cat.#90, fig.#63.

Schaffer/Eisenburger 1986, Exhibition catalogue #28 (no ill.).

Margarethe Poch Kalus, 1975, John Quincy Adams – ein vergessener Wiener Maler, Alte und Moderne Kunst 128:33-35.


Unknown private collection Vienna.
ca. 1980 Harriet Countess Walderdorff, Salzburg, daughter of the artist.
1982 (December) Gift Harriet Countess Walderdorff to Paintings Gallery Akademy Schillerplatz, Vienna.
Paintings Gallery of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna GG-1503.