Nolly von Seemann 1913

Full-body portrait, standing in a slightly oblique view, the head turned towards the viewer. The sitter has raised her forearms and is about to remove a long white glove, which is open at the ball of the hand, from her right hand with her left hand. The glove of her left hand already lies before her on the ground. She wears her dark hair up and a black taffeta dress with a wide neckline that is cut wider at the hips and tapers downward. The top of the dress, which covers her arms, is made of transparent black taffeta. At the waist she wears a big red fabric poppy with green leaves. In the background of the picture a white glazed door, largely covered by a gold-colored curtain, is visible.

JQAW# P_1912_060
Oil on canvas 213 x 120 cm
Signature: John Quincy Ɑdams 1912
Private collection Austria.
Image: Private photograph

Leonie „Nolly“ von Seemann-Treuenwart, née von Morawitz, remarried Harden, 17.10.1888 Vienna to 30.5.1944 Paris, a self-determined life until death.

Leonie/Nolly was born to the distinguished financier, author, and president of the Anglo-Austrian Bank Karl (also Carl/Charles) von Morawitz (1846-1914) and Marguerite (Margarethe), née von Frank (1886-1930). She had a brother Edgar (1893-1945) and two sisters: Alice (married Seemann-Treuenwart, 1889-1917) and Thea (married Urban-Emmerich, 1891-1925) with whom she maintained close contact also after her marriage.

On October 28, 1909, Nolly married (after converting to the Protestant faith) in the Lutheran City Church of Vienna "Ferry" Franz (Xaver Albin) von Seemann-Treuenwart (1879 Vienna - 1953 Rio), first lieutenant in Hussar Regiment No.4 and later (from 1914) Captain of the General Staff, son of Vice Admiral Karl Ritter von Seemann-Treuenwart (1837-1925). (As the name suggests, the family was of so-called military nobility -- officers who were ennobled by the emperor on the basis of special merits, or after a long career in the military. As a noble name they typically chose names signaling loyalty to the emperor, such as Treuenwart (steward of loyalty). Ferry’s grandfather, the farmer's son Wenzel Franz Seemann, Auditor General of the Imperial and Royal Army, was ennobled by the Emperor for special merits in 1854). The connection of the von Seemann and von Morawitz families became even closer with the later (1914) marriage of Nolly's sister Alice (1889-1917) to Ferry's brother, "Aly" (Albin Heinrich Maria) von Seemann-Treuenwart (1881-1961). Such marriages between siblings of two families were widespread in the monarchy (two sisters of Adams also married two Teltscher brothers), especially among the nobility and the Jewish bourgeoisie, which in the present case were united, which again was much less common. One of the reasons of this unusual Jewish-aristocratic marriage may have been that the Seemanns, as military men, had only modest incomes, while Morawitz Jewish family was very wealthy. (Roman Sandgruber, Traumzeit für Millionäre, 2013, Styria, p. 407 reports that around 1909/1910 Karl Morawitz paid taxes on an income of about 1 million crowns annually (which made him the 22nd richest Viennese) and that his estate in 1914 is said to have amounted to about 30 million crowns -in today's money far more than 200 million euros-).

The young couple Nolly and Ferry lived in the representative house Seilerstätte 17 in Vienna and during the summer months in a lakeside villa in St. Gilgen on Lake Wolfgang, which Margarethe von Morawitz had acquired in 1914 and passed on to Aly von Seemann-Treuenwart, Nolly's double brother-in-law, in 1918. The couple was blessed with two children: a son Cary (Karl, c.1910-1987, who died in a sailing accident --his favorite occupation-- in Canada) and a daughter Evy (Ewa, 1912-2011, whose memories, preserved in the family and kindly shared for this catalog, provided an important basis for this catalogue entry).

Like many officers, Ferry returned traumatized from World War I, which probably caused the break-up of the marriage with the fun-loving Nolly. The marriage was separated by court order on 18.2.1921. The children remained with their father in Vienna (Cary attended the Stubenbastei Gymnasium, Evy received private tuition and then attended a private school) but kept in touch with their mother. Nolly re-married on 3.12.1924 in Vienna with the sporty (skier and excellent fencer -- he was a participant in the Olympic Games 1906 in Athens and 1928 in Amsterdam where he won 4th places in fencing) dentist and Romanian Honorary Consul Dr. Martin Georg Harden (1876 Braila, Romania - 1968 Monaco) and took up residence with her second husband (it was also his second marriage) in Karlovy Vary (Karlsbad, Czech Republic). From 1927, the couple then lived in Monaco, where Dr. Martin Harden ran a dental practice until 1935 and was also appointed dental surgeon to Prince Rainier of Monaco in 1930. However, Nolly also lived in Paris and regularly visited Karlsbad, Vienna, and especially St. Gilgen, where she was a well-known personality (as evidenced by an entry in the guest book of the 1986 Adams exhibition, where visitors remembered her).

The darkening political situation after the strengthening of fascism and especially the "Anschluss" (i.e. the extinction of Austria in March 1938) also affected the Seemann and Morawitz families in a dramatic way. Ferry von Seemann went into exile in Latin America with his second wife Fanny (Franziska, née Anninger, 1879-1952); both died in Rio de Janeiro. Aly, in wise foresight, had already acquired Lichtenstein's citizenship in 1933, thus protecting his family from persecution. (Nolly's sisters Alice and Thea had already died.) Nolly's brother Edgar von Morawitz was already living in Spain as of 1927, but his two sons had to escape racial persecution by fleeing the Czech Republic. Nolly's children Cary and Evy were not directly endangered (since they came from a so-called "mixed marriage"), but Evy in particular had to witness traumatic experiences among her friends, from deportations to suicides. She last saw her parents in 1937/1938 and never again after that. Martin Harden returned from Monaco to Karlovy Vary in 1935 and fled from Czechoslovakia via Switzerland back to Monaco in 1944, where he received citizenship in 1952 and died in 1968 at age 92. It is likely that Nolly and Martin separated around 1935 and Nolly continued to live in France while Martin returned to the Czech Republic. No information is available on Nolly's fate between 1938 and 1944. What is known is that she lived in hiding in Paris in 1944 until her hiding place was denounced to the Nazis. When the Gastapo tried to arrest Nolly, she put an end to her life with poison. Like her life, her death was self-determined.

The portrait of Nolly von Seemann, painted in 1912, must have been of particular importance to Adams. It was published as a color print as early as 1913 in Westermanns Monatshelfte, presented to the public in 1913 also in Wiener Künstlerhaus (EL 58 1913/14 #2998), and also exhibited by Adams in 1916 at the Great Berlin Art Exhibition as the only civilian portrait (along with eight war paintings #1088 to #1095). Popelka (Catalog HGM 1961, p. 12) reports that serious differences arose between Adams and the War Press Quarters during preparations for the Berlin exhibition, which earned Adams a reprimand from the Army Ministry (the relevant letter from which Pokelka quotes has unfortunately since disappeared from Adams' War Press Quarters file in the State Archives). It is likely that the present civilian portrait of Nolly von Seemann, which was exhibited in Berlin as #229 "Portrait of N von Seemann" (exhibition label 2138 K on the back of the painting), was part of this conflict because of no military propaganda interest, but obviously of outstanding artistic importance to Adams. The portrait was likely created in the course of the acquaintance/friendship between Adams and the rest of the Seemann family, who all had a summer residences in St. Gilgen am Wolfgangsee and were enthusiastic sailors. The following anecdote has survived in the family. Aly's son Peter was already an excellent sailor at a young age. After winning a regatta, Adams is said to have said to Aly von Seemann: "Well Aly, now your son must get a boat, if he sails so well", whereupon the father immediately gave his son his sailing yacht Frigg special class S18 (Adams boat "Youth" had the number S41), which the grateful young owner of the boat held in high esteem for Adams throughout his life and passed the episode on in the family. The Adams portrait of Nolly von Seemann is still in the possession of the Seemann family descendants. According to family tradition, Adams also painted portraits of Nolly's sister Thea Urban-Emmrich, as well as her sons Hannes Edgar (1917-1943) and Hugo Karl (?-?) as "blue and brown boys" around 1920. However, these works that were kept in the Prague residence of the Urban-Emmrich’s, are lost, likely looted or destroyed during the war or in the course of the expulsion of the German-speaking population from Czechoslovakia after 1945.


1913 Künstlerhaus Vienna (EL 58 1913/14 #2998).

1916 Große Berliner Kunstausstellung Saal 4 #229.


APH, catalog raisonné JQA 1995, p. 116, cat.#84, fig.#58 (there dated 1913).


The sitter,
and her family descendants,
private collection, Austria.