Steffy Adams 1905/06

Full body portrait en face in sitting position, legs crossed. Her right hand rests on her lap, her left hand resting on a dresser, head slightly tilted towards the viewer, but not in direct eye contact with him. She wears a dress with a round neckline and wide horizontal stripes, the sleeves on the upper arm decorated with two bows. Living interior represented by a low chest, on it a large vase with dry flowers, carpet and a partially visible picture frame on the wall.

JQAW# P_1906_020
Oil on canvas 170 x 130 cm
Signature: John Quincy Ɑdams 906? (dating illegible)
Belvedere Vienna Inv.#736, disappeared in 1945 during its safe-storage in Kirchstetten Castle, since then lost.
Photo: Künstlerhaus Archiv Wien.

Stefanie Adams, wife of the artist, née Sobotka, 18.9.1881 Vienna to 21.6.1952 Salzburg Aigen.
Married 25.3.1901 to John Quincy Adams (marriage separated 1919, divorced 1920). 1921 remarried to Willy von Gutmann (1889-1966), but marriage dissolved before 1924. Residence in Schloss Würting until 1938, then racially persecuted, she survives in Belgium in hiding. After the war she returned to Austria and lived with her daughter Harriet Walderdorff, Salzburg, until her death. For biographical details, see the entry "The Artists' Family".

The first single portrait Adams painted of his wife Stefanie ("Steffy") after the 1904/05 "Painter's Wife and Daughter Gladys". The portrait has strong parallels to the later 1912 portrait Steffy Adams (seated position, legs crossed, interior, no eye contact with viewer), however, the present portrait shows a clearly younger, dreamier personality compared to the (pensive, self-assured) Steffy Adams of 1912. Both portraits present the sitter's beauty equally convincingly. The painting was originally conceived as an outdoor portrait as documented in a press report of the studio visit of Feb. 21, 1905 (Neues Wr. Tagblatt, p. 8): "Mrs. Adams in summer dress sitting on a little bench in the garden." The finished painting is probably an overpainting/completion of the background of the first study, since Adams' portraits always began with the person depicted and he only completed the background later. First exhibition at the Künstlerhaus Vienna 1905/06 (EL 49 #1417, referred to as "Frauenbildnis"), therefore also dated 1905/06 (in contrast to the literature, e.g. in APH dated 1907). The picture is also the subject of a poem that accompanies Adams' self-portrait in the book publication "Selbstportraits berühmter Wiener Künstler" (Self-Portraits of Famous Viennese Artists); for this reason, too, it is concluded that it was painted in mid-1906 at the latest (see cross-references). On 13.4.1906 purchase (3000 Kronen) by the Austrian Unterrichstministerium for Neue Galerie, the forerunner of the Belvedere Vienna museum. It was moved to safe-storage in Kirchstätten Castle during the bombings of Vienna and was still documented there in the fall of 1945, after the repatriation of the majority of the paintings stored there. Then, however, it disappeared with other remaining paintings and has been lost ever since (two of the missing paintings were returned to the Belvedere in 1995 and 2014(sic!)). The Adams painting (Inv#736) together with two other paintings (Inv#2355, as well as #3590) remained lost and were signed out of the Belvedere inventory. Although unlikely, hope still lives that this much admired portrait may one day reappear.


1905/06 Künsterlhaus Vienna (EL 49 1905/06 #1417).
1907 Düsseldorf, D. Nat. art exhibition (Portrait Frau A.). 1907/08 Künstlerhaus Vienna (EL 51 1907/08 #1962).
1927 Künstlerhaus Vienna (EL 78 1927 #1302).


APH, catalog raisonné JQA 1995, p. 80, cat.#49, fig.#34.


1906 Purchase from the artist for Moderne Galerie (Belvedere) Vienna.
Disappeared in the fall 1945 during war-related removal to Kirchstetten Castle.
Since then lost.