Max Friedmann 1908

¾ Portrait in a sitting position. The sitter is seated in a brown club chair, legs crossed, hands clasped together, a cigar in his right hand. The body is slightly turned, the head facing the viewer, looking directly at him. He has short hair and a moustache and is dressed in a brown three-piece suit with a white shirt with a stand-up collar and a brown-red tie. He wears a gold wedding ring and gold cufflinks. Beside the armchair a side table is shown, on it a lamp, opened books, as well as an oval portrait miniature in a rectangular frame. The background is represented only by brown brush-stroke structured walls and two indicated pictures.

JQAW# P_1908_120
Oil on canvas 98 x 112 cm.
Signature: John Quincy Ɑdams.
Private collection Austria.

Max(imilian) Friedmann 14.04.1864 Reschitza/Resiczabánya/Reşiţa (RO) to 23.08.1936 Bad Ischl; industrialist and member of parliament. See his biography at the Austrian Parliament.
Born in Banat (present-day Romania), Max Friedmann went to school at the Akademisches Gymnasium in Vienna and then studied at the Vienna University of Technology until 1885. At the age of 18, following the death of his father in 1882, he joined the machine factory founded by his father, the inventor Alexander Friedmann, as a partner, which he later managed together with his brother Ludwig (Louis). A special pioneering act of the Friedmann factory was the production (1904 to 1910) of a steam-driven automobile (design engineer: Richard Knoller), which, however, did not succeed on the market. (A specimen of the Friedmann-Koller steam car is preserved in the Vienna Technical Museum).

The interest in the novel innovation automobile, as well as the art interests of the Friedmann brothers may have led to the acquaintance between Max Friedmann and John Quincy Adams, who was equally an early automobile enthusiast. The second connection to Max Friedmann is through fencing. Both Max and Louis Friedmann were active fencers, a sport that Adams himself exercised at a high level. As a fencer Max Friedmann was masterful (his brother Louis and his wife were above all internationally recognized alpinists). The intensity of Max Friedmann's involvement in fencing is also evident from two incidents: In 1889, he caused a fatal sporting accident when his epee penetrated the grille of his opponent's helmet into his eye, killing him (Arnbom 2002, p. 116); in 1909, in turn, he was convicted (but promptly pardoned) when he assisted as a second in an (illegal) saber duel (Illustrierte Kronenzeitung 28. Mail 1909, pp.12-13). Fencing was therefore more than a sport around 1900.

In addition to his function as factory owner and manager, Max Friedmann was also involved in representing the interests of industry (1909-1914 vice president of the Austrian Federation of Industrialists), as well as politically. From 1911 to 1918 he was a member of the Reichsrat, from 1918 to 1919 a member of the provisional, and from 1919 to 1920 a member of the constituent National Assembly of the parliament of the new Austrian Republic.

In 1894 Max Friedmann married Johanna, née Mihanović von Frankenhardt (1868-1942), the marriage was blessed with two daughters (Hanni and Ali). Adams made portraits of all members of the family (see cross-references, although the portrait of Johanna Friedmann has so far not been identified or located). The Friedmann brothers were very interested in art and commissioned works from members of the Vienna Künstlerhaus (like Adams) as well as from the Secession, which had split off from it (like Gustav Klimt). Gustav Klimt's portrait of alpinist Rosalie Rosthorn-Friedmann, the wife of Louis Friedmann (Lady in Black 1900/1901), is well known. In addition to the portrait commissions to the Künstlerhaus member Adams, Max Friedmann awarded the completion and interior decoration of summer villa in Vienna Hinterbrühl to the builder of the Vienna Secession Josef Maria Olbrich, yielding a Jugendstil icon, now perfectly restored by the present owner. In 1919, Max Friedmann sold the Olbrich villa to save the factory, which was in economic turmoil after the war, and to be able to pay the workers' wages (his brother Luis did the same with his neighboring summer villa), an example of the social attitude of the Friedmann brothers (Arnbom, 2002, p.160).
In 1928 Max Friedmann suffered a cerebral stroke and died after a long illness in 1936 in the hospital of Bad Ischl. His is buried in the family grave in the Hiezing cemetery, Vienna.

The portrait Max Friedmann is one of the most attractive male portraits by Adams. The 44-year-old is depicted as an attractive man with the typical attributes of male portraits (books, cigar) and in a color scheme that is only in shades of brown, which adds to its special appeal and points to postwar portraits by Adams. Similarities to the 1905 portrait of Berta Habig or the portrait of Alice Harrach from 1919 are evident and testify to the special artistic aspiration that Adams realized with this portrait, which probably suggests closeness, possibly friendship, among the fencing sport colleagues. In contrast, the portrait of the two daughters Ali and Hanni Friedmann, also from 1908, is more conventional, even if it also follows a similar Rembrandesque brown tones color scheme. From a literature source (Neues Wr. Tagblatt 25.3.1908 Kunstwanderungen, p. 11) a portrait of Mrs. Friedmann (probably Johanna F.) is also documented and a stylistic comparison would be informative. Unfortunately, this portrait has to date neither been documented or located. It is a fact that none of the three Friedmann portraits was exhibited in the Vienna Künstlerhaus. The proximity to artists of the Sezession may have prevented the Friedmann family from exhibiting their portraits in the Künstlerhaus, which was considered conservative. An exhibition of a portrait represented a considerable social prestige for the portrayed, which the Friedmann family renounced in this case. The portraits of Max Friedmann as well as that of his two daughters were first united again at the 1986 Adams Exhibition at the Akademie Schillerplatz Vienna.


1986 Academy Schillerplatz Vienna, Viennese Society in Portrait, Catalog #19.


Schaffer/Eisenburger 1986, exhibition catalog #19 (with color ill.).

APH, catalog raisonné JQA 1995, p. 85, cat.#54, fig.#39.

Marie Theres Arnbom, Friedmann, Gutmann, Lieben, Mandl und Strakosch - Fünf Familienporträts aus Wien vor 1938, Böhlau Wien, 2002.


His family descendants.
Private collection Austria.