Excellency von Korda at Sadagora 1915
Three-quarter portrait to the left in profile. Von Korda, looking forward, binoculars in his right hand, left hand clasped at his side. Field adjustment: brown pants with wide red lanterns, blue uniform skirt, over the shoulders a short blue coat with black fur collar, at the side a saber. On the left a partially visible stable boy with two horses, these partially executed only as a preliminary sketch. Background: wide green landscape with brown fields, above a blue sky with clouds.
Oil on canvas 85 x 63 cm.
Signature: John Quincy Ɑdams. Exzellenz v. Korda Kommandant II. Korps Sadagora 22.V.15.
Army History Museum HGM Vienna Inv.Nr.KBI156 Bez.Nr.2973/2007
Ignaz Vinzenz Camillus Edler von Korda 12.9.1858 Josefstadt/Josefov CZ to 11.12.1918 Vienna.
Son of the physician Dr. Ignaz Edler von Korda (Nobilitierung 12.10.1869), in turn elevated to the rank of baron 27.6.1917. Classical k.u.k. army career: 1877 graduation from the Theresian Military Army as a lieutenant, then service in various dragoon regiments as a cavalry officer with changing positions also in the General Staff. Final transfer to the General Staff in 1895 as Major, there further career: Lieutenant Colonel, Colonel. In 1908 promoted to the lowest general rank (Major General), 1912 Field Marshal Lieutenant (hence the designation Excellency in Adam's signature).
In 1914 von Korda commanded the 7th Cavalry Division, in March 1915 he was appointed commander of the XI Corps (replacing Stefan Ljubicic), in September 1915 promotion to General of Cavalry. In June 1916, in his turn, replaced by Hugo von Habermann, afterwards von Korda served as commander of the (destroyed) Przemysl fortress until the end of 1917, after which he received no new command. Von Korda died shortly after the end of the war at the age of 61. The portrait of Field Marshal von Korda was made in Sadagora (a small village north of Cernowitz in Bukovina, today: Sadhora, Ukraine). The dating should be read as June (VI) 1915, since Sadgora was still held by the Russians in May 1915 (Popelka, 1961).
On the one hand, like many others, this is a typical general portrait in an energetic, confident pose. It is reasonable to speculate that von Korda's later recall from the XI Corps (which unsuccessfully attempted to fight the Russian Brusilov Offensive), which effectively marked the end of his military career, as well as the loss of the war and the monarchy (which certainly cannot be blamed solely on the generals) contributed to his early death.
On the other hand, the portrait is significant because it gives insight into Adams' creative process. The rapid preliminary drawing, which outlines the overall composition, is partially preserved and demonstrates a typical creative cycle of a portrait, as also documented in studio photographs: Preliminary development of the portrait in the artist's imagination, rapid realization in a rapidly executed cursorily drawn preliminary drawing, execution in oil of the portrayed, especially of the face (clothing and hands came later, often cursorily/impressionistically executed), and finally execution of the background and addition of details (such as jewelry or medals) with final signature and inscription (especially in the case of military subjects). There is no documented work by Adams (except for the portrait of his wife from 1905/06), where Adams would have fundamentally changed or overpainted a composition afterwards. After the painting process, the picture was immediately finished. Adams rejected the use of varnish with its long drying times. That is why so many of his works are behind glass (to increase brilliance and protection) and require a stable (for the large formats a massive, heavy) frame, which is often a problem for owners when hanging an Adams work. The present work, although unfinished, was nevertheless delivered to the war press corps and apparently not objected to, which was indicative of the hierarchical thinking of the monarchy (unfinished stable boys and horses were not a problem, the general was the focus of attention). In the present case, this is a fortunate coincidence, because it provides a direct insight into the artist's creative process.
War exhibitions of the k.u.k. War press corps:
1915 Vienna #367 (EL 60 1915/16 #1238)
1916 Berlin #1714
1916 Prague #4 1917
1917 Künstlerhaus Vienna collective exhibition John Quincy Adams No. 39 (EL 61 1916/17 #514)
1961 HGM Vienna exhibition Fahringer/Adams #22.
1986 Academy Schillerplatz Vienna, Viennese society in portrait, catalog No. 29.
Bilder aus dem Ersten Weltkrieg, catalog, HGM Vienna 1961, H Zatschek (ed.), text: L Popelka, cat #22.
Schaffer/Eisenburger 1986, exhibition catalog #26 (no illus.).
APH, catalog raisonné JQA 1995, 1995, p. 132, cat.#132, fig. 71.
War Press Corps Vienna to k.u.k. Army Museum.
Museum of Army History (HGM) Vienna Inv.No.KBI156 Bez.Nr.2973/2007