Two Elves pre-1900


Two winged, slender naked girls, the right one in frontal view, the left one in side view, their left and right hands, respectively, intertwined, are standing in the forest looking at two butterflies. The left elf has brown hair, the right elf reddish-blond hair, their heads are wreathed with flowers. The right elf has brought her left hand to her mouth in a gesture of astonishment. In the background of the forest landscape a meadow and a lakeshore are visible.

JQAW# G_1900_010
Oil on canvas 181 x 90 cm
Signature: not recognizable (according to the auction house present in traces, but re-traced). Signed in pencil on the reverse: John Quincy Ɑdams and inscribed in addition in ballpoint pen.
Unknown private collection.
Image: Boris Wilnitsky Fine Arts, Vienna.

This decor painting is an early work by the artist (between 1896 and 1900) and executed entirely in the tradition of historicism and in the style of (the arch-conservative) Christian Grienpenkerl (1839-1916), who was one of Adams' teachers (history painting) at the Academy. (Grienpenkerl, who is known today mainly for his decorative frescoes, for example in the decoration of the Palais Ephrussi in Vienna, taught many later important artists. However, his conservatism also led to protests and resistance, including the departure of Egon Schiele from the Academy in 1909 and the founding of the "Neukunstgruppe".)

Mythological or fairy-tale dressing, as in the present early work of Adams was a widely accepted means of depicting nudity in 19th-century salon painting. The work first appeared in the art trade and at auctions in 1996 and changed hands several times over 20 years. It is hoped that it has finally found an appreciative home since the 2019 Dorotheum auction (the unusually high auction price, well above museum-quality works by Adams, would seem to indicate this).





Auction Dorotheum Vienna, 17.1.1996 Lot 19.
Auktionata Germany 7.1.2016 Lot 27 (unsold).
2018/2019: Wilnitzky Fine Arts Vienna.
Auction Dorotheum Vienna, 10.12.2019 Lot 92.
Unknown private collection.