Guard post at the destroyed station IX Przemysl 1915

For description see below.

Oil on cardboard on canvass 36 x 47 cm.
Signature: Ɑdams Werk IX Przemysl 9. V
Heeresgeschichtliches Museum Wien HGM Inv. Nr. KBI154 Bez.Nr. 2976/2007.

A soldier stands as a sentry in front of the destroyed ruins of a fortification. Soldier in full body view, in blue uniform coat and cap as well as gray trousers, his rifle shouldered. In front of the concrete ruins an uprooted bare tree. In the background wide hilly green landscape.

This Adams painting, which vividly illustrates the whole absurdity of war--a sentry "guarding" the ruins of a functionless fortress--was created on the Eastern Front during the fighting for the Przemysl fortress in the summer of 1915. The Przemysl fortress, besieged by the Russian 11th Army for months, surrendered on 22.3.1915 after the garrison had blown up all the fortifications and destroyed all war material. On July 3 and 4, 1915, the now worthless fortress was recaptured by Austrian troops, and Adams documented the scene in several pictures immediately afterward. His dating "9. V" can therefore only be read as 9. VI, since in May the fortress was still held by the Russians. This indicates that Adams probably added the signature later when completing the painting and made a mistake in the date. The work IX referred to in the signature was used for anti-tank defense and was located in the northwest of the fortress (see L. Popelka, 1961).
The painting was also published during WWI as an art postcard by Verlag Gebrüder Kohn Vienna, one copy of which is preserved in the Piarist Museum, Budapest, Hungary.

Cross-references

Exhibited

1915 Vienna War Exhibition #73.

1961 HGM Vienna Exhibition Fahringer/Adams #23.

1986 Academy Schillerplatz Vienna, Vienna Society in Portrait, Catalog No. 33.

Literature

Bilder aus dem Ersten Weltkrieg, catalog, HGM Vienna 1961, H Zatschek (ed.), text: L Popelka, cat #23.

Schaffer/Eisenburger 1986, exhibition catalog #33 (no fig.).

Provenance

Unknown.
1947 Purchase by HGM from Viennese auction house.
HGM Vienna inv.#KBI154 ref.#2976/2007.

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