SEILERN [und Aspang], Countess Charles (Antoinette Woerishoffer)

Bust-length, with a huge frilled upturned collar.

Present whereabouts unknown.

Stephen Conrad, “Re-introducing Adolfo Müller-Ury (1862-1947): The artist, two dealer, four counts and the Kaiser: a hitherto unknown episode in international art history” in The British Art Journal, Vol. 4, No. 2, (2003) pp. 57-65, fig. 9, p. 61.

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A Carte-de-Visite photograph of Countess Seilern 1898 in the artist’s papers. It is not known why she addressed the artist as ‘My friend The Fraud and Deserter.’

American heiress Antoinette “Nettie” née Woerishoffer (1875-1901) married Count Carl Seilern und Aspang (1866–1940) in New York on 10 February 1898. The Seilern family’s ancestors had been ennobled after successful involvement with the Pragmatic Sanction of 1713.  The Woerishoffer’s wealth derived mainly from the German-language New York newspaper, the Neue Yorker Staats-Zeitung, but also from the the success which Charles Woerishoffer had had on Wall Street. Charles Seilern’s sister Ida was married to Phillip Hennessy, whose sister Nora was the wife of the Royal Academician, Lord Methuen. Muller-Ury was a close friend of their 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.

The three Seilern boys accompanied by their nanny and governess on board ship in October 1909.

They had three sons: Charles Hugo (“Chappie”: March 25, 1899 – February 29, 1988), Count Oswald Seilern (August 20, 1900 – July 7, 1967) and Count Antoine Seilern (17 September, 1901 –  6 July, 1978). All three sons were born in England, and therefore enjoyed citizenship of both Austria and the United Kingdom. The sitter died shortly after giving birth to Antoine in 1901, and thereafter the three Seilern boys divided their time between their grandmother, Anna Woerishoffer, in New York, and their father in London and Vienna, in the company of nannies and governesses (and frequently chaperoned by Muller-Ury), though until America entered the First World War, Mrs Woerishoffer spent 1912 to 1916 with her grandsons in Vienna. After Mrs Woerishoffer’s death in 1931 the three Seilern boys inherited her fortune – since both of her daughters were dead – which Muller-Ury told his sister Lina Muller in a letter in 1942 was some $18 million. Muller-Ury told his sister in the same letter that he had been devoted to Countess Seilern and that she had been like a sister to him. For this reason he had acted as intermediary between Mrs Woerishoffer in New York and the Count in Europe who had basically refused her access to her three grandsons unless she paid his debts, after which Mrs Woerishoffer never wished to see the Count; he also said that he had had a great deal of bother to guarantee the Count’s debts and had himself given Carlo $150,000 to prevent him going bankrupt.

The Todes-Anzeige for Countess Seilern which Muller-Ury stuck in his scrapbooks. The original has black edges.

This bust length portrait was painted in 1898 for her mother, Anna Woerishoffer along with the portrait of her thirteen years old sister Carola. Mrs. Charles Woerishoffer wrote to Muller-Ury from 145, West 58th Street, New York on March 14, 1898 (artist’s papers) as follows:

‘My dear Mr. Muller-Ury,

I wanted to write you ere this and thank you again, for the trouble you took with Carola’s picture. My father finds it excellent, which is a great gratification to me. If you have not ordered the frame, please do not bother about it, as I will get one in London. Would you kindly let me know my indebtedness to you? I shall thank you too, if you have both pictures properly packed. Could it not be done here and all the cases put together, as they could all be sent out together in the fall?

Yours very sincerely, Anna Woerishoffer.’

The second picture mentioned here is certainly that of her older daughter Countess Antoinette Seilern painted at the time of her marriage.