SEILERN, Count Antoine (No. 3; 1909)

Head and shoulders, 18.1/2” x 12”. Signed and dated lower left ‘Muller-Ury 1909’.

Private Collection, Austria

The sitter; by Descent in family.

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Count Antoine Edward Seilern und Anspang was born in Frensham, Surrey, on 17 September 1901. He was the youngest of the three sons of the Austrian Count Carl Seilern und Aspang (1866–1940) and the American heiress Antoinette “Nettie” née Woerishoffer (1875-1901). He therefore enjoyed citizenship of both Austria and the United Kingdom. Muller-Ury was a close friend of his mother and father and he had acted as an usher at their wedding in New York in February 1898, and, along with the other ushers, had been given a gold cigarette box by ‘Carlo’ Seilern by way of thanks. Seilern’s ancestors had been ennobled after successful involvement with the Pragmatic Sanction of 1713. His father’s sister Ida was married to Phillip Hennessy, whose sister Nora was the wife of the Royal Academician, Lord Methuen. He was both an art collector and an art historian. He was considered to be one of a handful of important collectors who was also a respected scholar. Seilern died in hospital in London in the early hours of 6 July 1978 (31 years to the day after Muller-Ury). He was buried on 13 July in the churchyard in Frensham, Surrey. His family later had the body exhumed and had it re-interred in the family vault at Schloss Schönbühel, approximately 80 km west of Vienna. The bulk of his very important art collection, rich in old masters, particularly Rubens, Tiepolo and Michelangelo Drawings, was bequeathed to the Courtauld Institute of Art in London.

This was amongst the pictures which Count Seilern did not bequeath in 1978 with the Princes Gate Collection to the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London. Count Seilern apparently kept it in a cupboard. I am grateful to the former Mrs. Helen Braham for this information.