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Cuno von Uechtritz-Steinkirch (1856 – 1908) Monument group no. 24: Colonel Konrad von Burgsdorff (1595 – 1652); Elector George William (1595 – 1640); Adam, Count von Schwarzenberg Unveiled on 23 December 1899 Formerly Siegesallee, Berlin, now City History Museum Spandau, Berlin.
Michiel Jansz. van Mierevelt (1567 – 1641)
Adam, Count von Schwarzenberg (1583 – 1641), Herrenmeister of the Johanniterorden and, later, Governor of Brandenburg
Oil on panel
27 1/8 x 20 7/8 in. (69 x 53 cm.)
Signed and dated, center left: 'Aetatis 46. / A ° 1629 / M. Mierevelt'
This strikingly characterful portrait, painted by one of the most celebrated Dutch portrait painters of the seventeenth-century, Michiel Jansz. van Mierevelt (1566 – 1641), depicts the important Westphalian noble Adam, Count von Schwarzenberg (1583 – 1641). As well as being the Elector of Brandenburg’s primary minister, he was Master of the Johanniterorden, a German affiliate member of the world’s oldest chivalric order: the Alliance of the Orders of Saint John of Jerusalem. Its distinctive medallion, shaped in the form of a Maltese cross, hangs on a gold embroidered ribbon, which rests upon with the sitter’s slashed black silk doublet. The sitter, gazing imperiously at his audience, is presented in late middle-age with flowing white hair, which was – seemingly -once a rich chestnut that still remains in his moustache.
Presumably by descent within the Schwarzenberg family;
Adolphe Schloss (1842 – 1910), Paris, by 1903; bequeathed to his wife
Lucie Schloss (1858 - 1938); to their children, who moved the entire collection from Paris to Château de Chambon, Laguenne on 20 August 1939 for safekeeping; until 16 April 1943 when confiscated by Vichy officials who relocated the whole collection to
Banque de France, Limoges; until 9 August 1943 when transferred to
CGQJ headquarters; kept here until 1 November 1943, when 262 Schloss paintings were sold to
The Linz Museum Project; transferred to
Jeu de Paume, Paris on 2 November 1943; then transferred to
The Führerbau, Munich on 24 November 1943; until 30 April 1945, when the Schloss-Linz paintings were stolen from the Führerbau;
Christie's, Rome, 12 April 1991, lot 60;
Private collection, Europe; until 2020 when restituted to the Schloss heirs.
 For a full record of this painting’s wartime provenance and proof of its restitution, see: https://pilot-demo.jdcrp.org/artwork/miereveld_portrait_51711/
The Hague, Oude Portretten, 1 July to 1 September 1903, p. 46, no. 84.
F. W. J. G. Snijder van Wissenkerke, Catalogus van de tentoonstelling van oude portretten, The Hague 1903, pp. 47 - 48, no. 84. [lent by A. Schloss].
Clotilde Brière-Misme., Catalogue of the Schloss Collection, 1923, no. 158.
Banque Dreyfus inventory, 11 August 1943, p. 19, n°158.
German inventory B323/1212, 1943, p. 39, n°134.
Pusey register, directory of spoliated property n°244;
Marie Hamon-Jugnet, 'Collection Schloss: oeuvres spoliées pendant la deuxième guerre mondiale non restituées, 1943-1998', Paris, 1998, p. 109.
Born in Gimborn, in the county of Mark, when it was a county-state of the Holy Roman Empire in the Lower Rhenish–Westphalia, Adam was the heir to his father, Adolf, Count of Schwarzenberg (1547 – 1600), who was a distinguished general. The family was first recorded in the 12th century and became imperial counts of the Holy Roman Empire in 1599, thanks to Adolf’s heroic military feats. Adam’s father, being the first Count under this guise, only enjoyed the title briefly as he died in battle, fighting the Ottoman Empire, in 1600; Adam thus inherited his lordship at the tender age of seventeen.
Rather than follow his father’s path in the military, he embraced a career in politics, becoming a privy councillor and chief minister for the Elector of Brandenburg, Georg William (1595 – 1640) in Berlin. In 1613, he married Margaretha von Pallant (1583 – 1615), daughter of Hartard, Baron van Pallandt. Tragically, she died in her early thirties whilst giving birth to their second son, Johann Adolf (1615 - 1683), who would later become the first Prince of Schwarzenberg. Rather than seeking another wife, he entered the Johanniterorden, becoming its Herrenmeister (‘Grand Master’) in 1625, a post he held until his death in 1641.
Despite having a fairly inconspicuous early career in Berlin, Schwarzenberg became a controversial figure within the Brandenburg court, no doubt charged by his Roman Catholicism and inherent imperialist sympathies. Being mindful of the absolutist goals of the Holy Roman Empire, Schwarzenberg attempted to sway the Brandenberg court away from its historic neutrality toward full support for the Hapburgs, likely incentivised by the promise of power beyond Berlin. This was challenged several times, first by a Protestant faction of the Brandenburg court, and then by pro-Calvinists who were aligned with the Swedish forces, who intervened during the height of the Thirty Years’ War.
Despite his father’s aptitude in warfare, Schwarzenberg hastily attempted to raise an army to thwart the Swedes by appropriating the Privy Council’s funds for a new Council of War. As well as introducing unforgiving taxes to assist this financing and hiring rogue mercenaries, his dictatorial style proved too ill-fitting with Georg William’s successor, Frederick William, who quickly curtailed Schwarzenberg’s powers upon his accession to the Electorship in 1640. Schwarzenberg died suddenly in 1641, possibly hastened by the stress in handling an ill-disciplined army, and his pro-imperialist legacy was swiftly reversed in favour of interstate, continental harmony, which was ultimately realised through the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648.
The present portrait was one of 5350 paintings that were misappropriated for Adolf Hitler’s - fortunately unrealised - Führermuseum in Linz. Our research first identified this provenance when it was offered for sale in 2019 and, as a result, it was correctly restituted to the heirs of Adolphe Schloss, the painting’s pre-war owner. Poignantly, had his wife not died just before the advent of the war, most of the Schloss collection would have been kept safely at the Louvre, which had been offered the chance to acquire the majority of the collection.
However, as James Plaut, one of the heroic members of the ‘Monuments Men’, said: “One of the most involved, and ugliest, swindles in France was the confiscation of the celebrated Schloss Collection by the Vichy government in 1943 -- in concert with the German occupation authorities. This was the only major instance of official French collaboration in the transfer to the Germans of valuable art properties. Formally, the negotiation was classified as a voluntary sale. The Vichy government was to pay the Schloss family 18,500,000 francs for 49 masterpieces of Dutch painting desired for the Louvre; the German government was to pay 50,000,000 francs for the 262 pictures desired for Linz; the remaining 21 paintings were to revert to the family. In essence, however, the affair was bald confiscation. Vichy never paid its debt; the German funds were placed at the disposal of the Vichy Commission for Jewish affairs and the 21
paintings were sold for personal gain by one Lefranc, the official negotiator appointed by Vichy. Not a sou reached the Schloss family.”
The present portrait is representative of the wider Schloss collection, which was primarily focussed on seventeenth-century Dutch and Flemish old masters and thought to be the last of the great collections of Dutch art constituted in France in the 19th century. The entire collection, comprising of at least 334 paintings, was housed in the family residence at 38 Avenue Henri Martin in Paris [Fig. 2]. Even after Adolphe’s death in 1910, it was preserved, intact, by his family until it was moved to Château de Chambon, Laguenne – for ‘safe keeping’ - in 1939. Alas, this was not to be and, to date, approximately half of the collection remains missing.
Our research also revealed the identity of the sitter, which had been unknown even before Schloss acquired it sometime around the turn of the 20th century. Thanks to Mierevelt having inscribed the sitter’s age and date of the portrait alongside his signature, it was known that the subject of the painting was aged 46 in 1629. This definitive data, along with the sitter wearing the distinctive Order of St John and reference to another full-length portrait that clearly depicts the same man [Fig. 1], enabled us to definitively identify the subject as being Adam von Schwarzenberg. There is also a later stone bust by the sculptor Cuno von Uechtritz-Steinkirch (1856 – 1908), which was designed for Berlin's Siegesallee [Fig. 3].
Born in Delft in 1567, Michiel Jansz. van Mierevelt was the son of a goldsmith. He was firstly apprenticed to the copperplate engraver Hieronymous Wierix, and then to the painter Willem Willemsz.. Mierevelt showed precocious talent and in 1581 was invited by the artist Anthonie van Montfoort (also known as Blocklandt.) to enter his school at Utrecht, after he had seen two of Mierevelt’s early engravings, Christ and the Samaritan and Judith and Holofernes.
Two years later, he returned to Delft, and became an officer of the Guild of St. Luke as early as 1589. Unfortunately, little of Mierevelt’s early oeuvre survives, a time when he devoted himself to still lives and history subjects. However, from 1590 he devoted himself almost entirely to the art of portraiture, and it was as a portraitist that he achieved fame and fortune. He was described and praised specifically as a portraitist in 1604 by the contemporary historian, Karel van Mander, in his ‘Schilder-boek’. Indeed, Mierevelt achieved such success at the time that his studio became one of the largest in operation; it is thought that Mierevelt and his studio painted at least one thousand portraits during his lifetime. In 1607 he was appointed official painter of the Stadholder court of Mauritsz, the Prince of Orange-Nassau, in The Hague, whom he portrayed in the same year (Stadhuis, Delft). Thereafter, he was regularly employed to paint official portraits destined as diplomatic gifts, with his studio producing high-quality replicas in various formats, often for circulation within the sitter’s family but also wider afield.
Mierevelt’s role as court painter also emphasised his status as the most fashionable portraitist of his day, receiving commissions not only from noble families of the Dutch Republic but also from visitors from abroad. His foreign sitters included many English clients who sat for him whilst on their travels to the Netherlands, notably Sir Dudley Carleton (Montacute House, Somerset) and Edward Cecil, Viscount Wimbledon (NPG, London). In his autobiography of 1631, Constantijn Huygens described Mierevelt as ‘the leader in this field [portraiture]. Who he is and how great he is, is known not only in Delft, the Netherlands, Belgium and Europe, but, I truly believe, throughout the world’. Many of the artist’s pupils and assistants rose to fame, including Paulus Moreelse and Jan Antonisz. van Ravesteyn. His portrait was painted by Sir Anthony Van Dyck, and engraved by his son-in-law, Willem Jacobsz. Delff.
 J. Bérenger, “Les Schwarzenberg à l'époque moderne” from Économie et Société, Vol. 26, No. 3 (Septembre 2007), p. 35.
 A portrait of the present sitter’s great-grandson, Adam Franz, Prince of Schwarzenberg (1680 – 1732), by the court painter Johann Georg von Hamilton, was formerly handled by The Weiss Gallery.
 C. Clark, Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia 1600–1947, Cambridge 2006, p. 29.
 James S. Plaut. “Hitler’s Capital” from The Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 178, no. 4 (October 1946), p. 5.
 For thorough pre-and post-war histories of the Schloss collection, see: https://pilot-demo.jdcrp.org/essays/adolphe-schloss-collection/
 Plaut, 1946, p. 5.
 Overall, 61,000 works of art were retrieved in Germany and brought back to France after World War II, many of which had been stolen from Jewish families. To date, more than 45,000 have been returned to their rightful owners. For more information, see: https://collections.louvre.fr/en/album/1
 Schwarzenberg is positioned alongside busts of the Elector George William and Colonel Konrad von Burgsdorff (1595 – 1652).
7 R. Ekkart, “Michiel van Mierevelt” from The Grove Dictionary of Art, online 2003.
 Mierevelt’s popularity in England may be easily understood if one compares his work to that of British court painters such as Robert Peake, John de Critz and Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger. Prince Henry, was so impressed by Mierevelt’s work that in 1611 he made several attempts to persuade him to come to England as his Court Painter.