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Josef Grassi-Attrib. "Maria-Theresia, Countess von Kolowrat-Krakowsky", oil painting, 1785/90
Price: 5900 EUR
(please note additional 13% tax applies for transactions concluded within the European Union)
Acquired in February 2017 in Brussels (until the 1790s - centre of Austrian province "Austrian Netherlands"), this work is a small, superior quality portrait of a young lady called (see inscription on verso) "Comtesse Kolowrat". She appears to be about 18 to 20 years old and is dressed and hair-styled according to fashion of the mid-1780s.
Counts Kolowrat is an old noble family in Bohemia (until the early 20th century - part of the Austrian Empire; now - Czech Republic).
This family has two branches: Kolowrat-Liebsteinsky and Kolowrat-Krakowsky. Among all female members of these two branches, there were three young ladies of approximately the same age as "our" sitter, who lived in the aforementioned period (from mid- to late 1780s) . Their names were:
1) Maria-Katharina, Countess von Kolowrat-Liebsteinsky (1772-1855); she was the daughter of Superintendent of the Royal Castle Hradschin in Prague - Franz Joseph Count Kolowrat-Liebsteinsky. Naturally, the countess spent her youth in Prague. In 1789, at the age of 17, she married Franz Adam Count von Bubna-Litic and had three sons with him. In 1809, her husband died. Later, she remarried to French officer Auguste-Jean-Joseph Vicomte Raulin de Cajec. Whether this marriage produced offspring is unknown. She died in Versailles in 1855; her second husband's death followed three years later.
In 1785 (note the fashion of the sitter's dress and hair-style), she was 13. At the age of 17, she acquired a new surname - "Countess von Bubna".
2) Maria Antonia, Countess von Kolowrat-Krakowsky (1763-1842). She was the daughter of Bohemian "Oberstlandrichter" in Prague, Prokop Count von Kolowrat-Krakowsky. We will not go into details concerning the biography of this lady: her portrait (available on the Web) at old age demonstrates entirely different physiognomic properties than those of "our" sitter.
3) Cousine of our "nr. 2" (Maria Antonia Countess von Kolowrat-Krakowsky) - Maria Theresia Countess von Kolowrat-Krakowsky (1770-1849). Her portrait (similarly available on the Web; see our image nr.17), though slightly out of focus, shows without a doubt the (already aged) woman from "our" portrait.
In 1785, she was 15. She remained "Countess Kolowrat" until her marriage in 1792. In other words, between the years 1785 and 1792, she was between 15 and 22 - the age span fully corresponding to visual appearance of "our" sitter"!
Maria Theresia Countess von Kolowrat-Krakowsky was born on June 23, 1770 in Vienna. On September 17, 1792, she married seven years her senior, Austrian Kammerherr (chamberlain) Leopold Franz Count von Podstatzky-Liechtenstein (1763-1813). He was a member of the old noble family "Prussinowitz" from Podstata (Bodenstadt). In the 18th century, the family name gained the prefix "Liechtenstein" from the (related yet already ceased) House of Liechtenstein, thus becoming "Podstatzky-Liechtenstein".
The young couple spent the first four years of their marriage in the husband's Castle Veselicko in Bohemia. Later, from 1796, they lived in the Castle Telc, Bohemia (see our images nr.14-15).
With time, Countess von Podstatzky-Liechtenstein became the mother of two children.
On October 1, 1813, her husband died. After his death, she (her son's main custodian) became the owner of all her late husband's properties. Clearly her wealth played some role in attracting a young (13 years her junior) fiancÚ only a year later. He was 31-year-old Austrian major and "Kammerherr" Johann Karl Count von Hardegg (1783-1839). Their wedding took place in 1814. The newlywed Countess von Hardegg was already 44, and the marriage remained childless. Sometime in the next several years, Maria Theresia was awarded the Austrian Ladies "Sternkreuzorden" (Order of Star Cross). From the late 1790s (as the wife of a chamberlain) she was also a "Palastdame" (a dame with access to the court).
She outlived her second husband by ten years and died on May 21, 1849 in Stronsdorf, Mistelbach District, Lower Austria.
Our comparison images nr.18-28 convincingly demonstrate that this portrait is with great likelihood an original work of Austria's leading, late-18th-century portraitist, Josef Grassi.
Josef (Maria Giuseppe) Grassi was born in Vienna on 22. April 1757, as the younger brother to the sculptor and porcelain modeller Anton Grassi. Their father, Ottilio, was a goldsmith from Udine, Italy. In 1768, aged 11 (!), he began studying at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts, and very soon achieved great success, especially among women, as a skilled portraitist, miniaturist and later as painter of larger portraits in oil. Nevertheless, at the end of his studies, in 1791, he felt that he was being treated unfairly at the Academy when he lost a competition for a travel scholarship; hence he took the advice of some friends who were Polish nationalists and moved to Warsaw. There he became a teacher of Teresa Jablonowska and established himself as a successful portrait painter. On the recommendation of Jean-Baptiste Lampi, he even got the vacancy of a painter at the court of the Polish King Stanislaus August II and advanced to the favourite portraitist of Polish court and high aristocracy.
In 1791 the Vienna Academy elected him member of Academy for his portrait works.
When the Kosciuszko Uprising broke out in 1794, he was able to leave the battle zone through mediation of Kosciuszko, whose portrait he had painted. Together with his pupil Johann Niedermann who also stayed in Poland during that time he returned to Vienna.
1797 was obviously the year of Grassi's first visit in Castle Sagan in Silesia (now Zagan, Poland). Later stays at the castle followed. The Duchess Wilhelmine von Sagan is supposed to be the person who helped Grassi to commissions and to an Academy professor title (1799) in Dresden, where he taught along with Anton Graff.
He took two leaves of absence during his stay in Dresden, one to Gotha in 1804 where he decorated a bedroom for Duke August of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, painted portraits of the Duke and his wife and scenes illustrating literature works of the Duke, and another to Rome from 1808-1810 as a member of the Accademia di San Luca. From 1816 to 1821 he stayed in Rome again, serving as the "Director of Studies for Saxon Artists in Italy". At that time, however, the Nazarene movement came into vogue, and his work was ignored so he returned to Dresden. Here, he lived a secluded life without any official job, and died on 07. January 1838.
He was a bearer of the Grand Cross of Saxonian Civil Order and had a title of "Geheimer Legationsrat" (Privy Legation Councilor) which he obtained from Duke August of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg.
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Provenance: antique trade, Belgium
Creation Year: 1785/90
Object Type:Framed oil painting
Style: Old Master paintings
Technique: oil on canvas, laid on wood (oval)
Inscription:verso is titled: "Comtesse Kolowrat"
Creator: Josef Grassi
Creator Dates: 1757 Vienna-1838 Dresden
Nationality:Austrian / German
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