Tombstone of the Rabas family (Brno, Central Cemetery, sect. 1, grave No. 139), 1920, travertine, bronze, signed: A. LOOS.
More complex in terms of visual aspect and architecture, the Rabas family’s tombstone takes the form of a gate of death (the gate to eternity), which is symbolically closed by the figure of a mourning young man kneeling in front of it. The symmetrically composed tombstone is conceived as a slightly conical portal formed by a simple architrave made of travertine blocks framing a bronze door with a circular knocker. The unsigned bronze statue of a young man, curled up and kneeling, that blocks the gate of death, rests on two steps between cubiform socles with bronze lamps in the shape of ancient temples (the lamps have been removed).
The statue of a young man, a frequently used type of sculpture in sepulchral art, is the work of the Austrian sculptor August Rantz (1872–1960); in 1904, he was awarded a gold medal for this statue at the World’s Fair in St. Louis, USA. An almost identical tombstone, including tombstone architecture, is located in the cemetery in Graz, Austria, and also in the municipal cemetery in Opava (the grave of the Rotter-Salzborn family; the statue of the young man, however, disappeared from it in 2008). The statue by Rantz is also the central motif of the monumental tombstone of Heinrich Schaub in the southern cemetery of Leipzig (designed by Emil Franz Hänsel).
In the past, specialist literature attributed the Rabas family tombstone to architect Adolf Loos Jr., but it is undoubtedly an example of a grand tombstone of a higher standard from the production of the stonemasonry firm of the architect’s mother Marie Loos. There is no evidence whatsoever that Adolf Loos Jr. would participate in any way in the commissions of the company of his mother, with whom he had a very cold personal relationship.
In the first years of its independent existence, the company headed by Marie Loos used the signature Adolf Loos’ W(it)we (Brünn) or Adolf Loos-W(it)we (Brünn) but later it returned to the proven brand: A(dolf) Loos (Brünn/Brno). That is why numerous works that originated many years after the death of the company’s founder, sculptor Adolf Loos Sr. (deceased 1879), are signed with the name Adolf Loos – as can be seen on the tombstone of the Rabas family.
Besides her son Adolf, Marie Loos had two daughters, but both died prematurely. Hermína remained single and childless. A year her elder, Marie-Irma married Albert Pirschl but their marriage soon ended in divorce. Valtr (Walter), the only son of Marie-Irma, was born on 24 August 1894. In 1915, Marie Loos asked her son, architect Adolf Loos, to adopt her only grandson Valtr, so that the name Loos would be preserved in the company’s management. Adolf Loos Jr. complied with his mother’s wish, adopting his nephew and giving him his name. In April 1916, Marie Loos granted Valtr Loos, who was coming of age, a power of attorney for all legal acts concerning the company.
“One day in 1921, a young blonde man appears at our door. It's Walter. He's coming with a message. His mother is very ill. She is not afraid of death, but she is afraid to die without securing Walter and his legacy. Although she has disinherited her son, he could still contest the will once the mother was dead. That is why she offers him a payoff of 10,000 Czech crowns if Loos signs a document stating that he will not question Walter's inheritance. The mother does not want to see her son. A trip to Brno would be useless. And so, Loos signs a statement that he relinquishes any claims to his mother's inheritance. Shortly afterwards, the mother dies, taking all her hatred with her to the grave. Loos does not attend the funeral. He never talked about his mother again.” (Elsie Altmann-Loos, Můj život a Adolf Loos [My Life and Adolf Loos], Prague 2014, p. 24).
In the case of the tombstone for the Rabas family, its origin may have been related to family ties with Valtr Loos, who at the time already ran the stonemasonry company of his grandparents by himself. The tombstone was made after the death of engineer and builder Jindřich Rabas (born 1847, died 20 July 1920), whose company Rabas, Kosina and Weiner built the Bystřička dam near Valašské Meziříčí in 1908–1912; it represented the pinnacle of contemporary hydraulic engineering. Valtr Loos’ wife at the time, Marie, née Toiflová, was the daughter of the cousin of Julie Rabasová, Jindřich Rabas’ widow.