The Reutlinger Photography Studio was opened in Paris in 1850 and took photos of the rich and famous until 1937. The studio was founded by Charles Reutlinger, of German descent. There is a charming description of a visit to the studio in an 1867 edition of The British Journal of Photography. The studio passed on to Charles’ brother Emile in 1880, who ran the studio until 1890. In 1883, Emile’s son Léopold (b. March 17, 1863) came to Paris from Callao, Peru, where he grew up. It was Léopold, who took over in 1890, that developed the postcard business that most interests me.
Léopold “introduced a very distinctive style of merging photographic images with art nouveau fantasy overlays. He added to that process exceptionally well-done hand tinting. The Reutlinger Studio became known for their unusual art nouveau styles of postcard designs, especially for portraits of actresses. These postcards were not cheaply produced, nor were they cheaply sold. This part of his business was very successful and sought-after, as thousands of his art nouveau postcards were produced.” (http://e-vint.com/e-reutlinger.html)
Léopold continued to run the studio until he lost an eye in an accident with a champagne cork in 1930. He died in 1937 at the age of 74.
I have a very large number of postcards from the Atelier Reutlinger in my collection, and I will share many of them here and on other pages, as I learn how to design appropriate pages to organize and show cards from my collection.
Here are a few examples, from 1900-1901. This era was particularly characterized by black and white cards featuring identified stage actresses in art nouveau frames:
The earliest Reutlinger postcards in my collection, roughly from 1900-1902, feature images of identified famous actresses, singers, and dancers from the day, surrounded by highly stylized art nouveau frames. Often, the same frames were used with different actress images in the center. Click here to see more examples of art nouveau frame postcards from my collection.
In the several years that followed, the studio began to experiment with color tinting, different stylization, and more outlandish or novel photomontage techniques.
All types of series were popular at the time. The card to the left (from 1904) and the card above (mailed in 1907 but likely produced in 1904) are part of a series dedicated to the days of the week.
Another series in my collection is a series of cards for the 4 seasons. There are four template frames, but images of different actresses were inserted into each frame. Cards for the other three seasons can be viewed here.
In 1904, divided backs were permitted in France; prior to then the back was reserved for the recipient’s address and all messages had to appear on the front (thus the handwriting on the front of some cards above). This card is from 1906. As is the case with many of the frames, this windmill frame is used with the images of several different actresses.
One way to approach the Reutlinger postcards is from the perspective of the models featured on the cards, many or most of whom appear to have been well known singers, dancers, and actresses of the day. I will start to collect images from my collection and information about different models on this page. This card is from 1907 and features one of the most famous personalities, Carolina Otero (universally known as “La Belle Otéro”).
This card is from 1903 and features the actress Garrick with an unusual web motif.
Click here for an assortment of some other unusual Reutlinger postcards.
This card is from 1900 and features the opera singer Rose Caron.
She actually can be heard on a 1902 or 1903 recording here.
These two web pages further describe the Atelier Reutlinger, with additional sample postcards:
Good idea to put your postcards on line. I’m sure that a lot of people will be jealous! I have to look at the other parts of the website.
Congratulation and learn quickly how to put the other cards on line.
Thank you, Bernard. I have recently acquired a lot of very interesting new Reutlinger postcards, so I now just need to figure out the best way to organize them and put them on the site…
So magnificent! What a valuable, lush collection. I recognized Otero and am happy to learn Garrick’s name – I have a postcard of her as well – hard to ignore that coiffure!
You’ve done a beautiful job on your site. I am trying to find the identity of a young model who appears on scores of Reutlinger, Gustav Liersch, and other vintage cards. I don’t believe she is a stage star as none of the cards display her signature. I believe she may have started modeling in her early teens and continued into her twenties. She sometimes appears with younger girls who show what may be a family resemblance. The Postcarddiva blog at http://postcardiva.blogspot.com/2011/02/photographers-daughter.html speculates she may be the photographer’s daughter. The model I am interested in is pictured in the last three photos on that page. Do you have any information about her. Thanks!
Thanks for your comment, Jean. I’m glad you like the site. I’m afraid I don’t know the identity of that model, but it’s a neat mystery. I’ll keep my eyes out for any information and let you know if I find out anything!
I’m a conservation student researching a photograph by Leo Reutlinger, 1894. It’s of a famous soprano, it’s about 2.2 metres high and is a silver gelatin print. I’ve had quite a hard task of finding out more about Leo’s studio practice, what exact papers he preferred to use for larger photos etc. was he already using papers with a baryta layer at this stage, did he like ‘gaslight’ papers…. if you know anything I would really appreciate it. 🙂
P.S it’s a beautiful collection you have! Can’t wait to conserve photos such as these.
Thanks, Karina! Your work sounds fascinating. Do you know the name of the soprano in the photo? Unfortunately, I don’t know much about the photography side of the Reutlinger business, just the postcard side of things, and even there not much about the technical aspects. I don’t think it will have directly relevant information, but if you missed it you will probably find interesting the description of an 1867 studio visit linked in the first paragraph on this page. I’ll let you know if I come across anything else that might be helpful.
Thanks for the link Victor, looking through it now! The singer is Dame Nellie Melba, and it’s a beautiful print. Thanks again.
Interestin. I too have a good number of antique hand tinted postcards of Atelier Reutlinger – most unused, undivided backs of different series from the 1900-1904 period showing famous stage personalities of the time among which Otero; Liane De Vries; Gilda Darty; Stratzaers; Blanche Miroir; Cleo de Merode; Frascuelita; Liz Chavita; Nina D’Asty; and Liane de Pougy and Zarina (in art noveau frames); De Freville and Colonna Romano (Casino de Paris seies), Nimidof; Catherine Mastio (Opera series). I wonder if any of your readers have any information on other postcard printers of the same era (of which I also have many cards) – eg: H. Manuel (Paris) , Anthony’s Paris; Walery (Paris); BNK (?Paris); NRM; NPG and Alterocca Terni (Italy); RPH (? Germany) and Raphael Tuck et Fils Paris (Real Photo series; Beauty Series; Musical Celebrities Series with various cards showing ladies in elegant attire with attched designs like paste bead highlights added to wraps, dresses and headscarfs).
Thanks for your comment, Danny. It sounds like you have a great collection. I don’t know much about those other studios, although I have seen (or have cards from) some of them too. Certainly do let me know if you find a good source of information on any of them!
Thanks for reply. I think that one perhaps needs to make a clearer distinction between photo studios and card publishers concerning names or monograms on old postcards. A case in point is Atelier Reutlinger whose photos seem to have been published by various printers (some cited like R. Tuck (esp the Paris branch); N.P.G.,etc while others not shown on card – could some of the latter have been produced by Reutlinger ?)
It is an interesting point you make, Danny, and beyond the realm of my knowledge. I have been primarily focused on aesthetics, rather than the publishing and business arrangements. It would be great to know about those aspects of things, but I wouldn’t even know how to approach figuring that out. I suppose I could categorize my collection along those lines to see what different marks are on the card, and that might be something I eventually examine. Regardless, your point does potentially explain why there are some cards bearing Reutlinger photographs that are not of comparable quality and stylistic merit. My understanding is, however, that the studio itself was in the postcard business, and not just the business of selling and licensing photographs. So I do have the impression that, for most of the postcards, the studio both took the photos and produced the cards. But I’d certainly be interested to be directed to any information to the contrary.
Thanks for your reply. From the little I could gather on the internet and from what I have in my collection it would seem that many of the antique postcards bearing photos by Reutlinger were published by the S.I.P which (French) company however seems to have also published cards of other photographers (like H. Manuel Paris; Ogerau Paris). However as previously stated a number of Reutlinger photos were published by other printers too (Raphael Tuck et Fils Ltd Editeurs Paris; etc)
Hi, I’m writing a book called ‘The French Ace in Popular Culture’, focusing on the postcards of French airmen available during World War One. Postcards of aviators were pretty common before the war, but Leopold Reutlinger seems to have been among the first photographers to realize the commercial value of military flyers. With his experience shooting theatrical performers, he certainly knew how to make his subject appear heroic. In late 1915/16 he produced several images that became best sellers of early French aces; Georges Guynemer, Charles Nungesser, Jean Navare and Roland Garros and later released a series of these and other pilots called ‘Nos As’ that lasted until late 1917. His competitors Ernest le Deley and Alfred Noyes released similar cards. Of the fourteen or so aviators in the series, Leopold only shot four or five himself and relied on images taken by Henri Manuel, the official government photographer for the rest. While working on this series Leopold was also dealing with the loss of his son Jean, age 21, a fine photographer himself and poised to follow in the family business when he was killed in action soon after the war began in September, 1914. There is a book about the Reutlinger Atlier (all in French) called Les Reutlinger, by Jean Pierre Bourgeron. Hope this helps! Information about French photographers from this period and the extent of their business dealings is hard to find!
Dereck Van Wickel
How fascinating, Dereck! I’m surprised I have never seen any of the aviator postcards. Do you know anywhere on the internet where there are examples? I would love to see one. Please keep us updated on the progress of your book and thanks for all the information! Also, have you come across anything in your researches that goes to the question Danny raises below as to whether the Reutlinger Studio did itself produce postcards and not just photographs?
Interesting information and nice work on your book. The hard to find data you mention is perhaps the reason why it is still not clear enough whether Reutlinger was just a photographic studio or a publisher of postcards too. Similar photos of the same famous actresses/beautiful women seem to have been printed with significantly different merit by different companies – of which the German ones (like NPG; RPH, etc ) were held to be the better quality-wise at those times (early 1900s) even though some other puiblishers (including S.I.P.; Rahael Tuck – London & Paris branches; etc) did in fact print many noteworthy postcards too. As an example of this cooperation one finds that both R. Tuck (Paris) and N.P.G published photo works by Reutlinger and Falk NY (Benjamin J Falk – another well known photographer).
All of the information I have seen indicates that the Reutlinger Studio did publish postcards. For example, this biography, which I quote in the second paragraph at the top of this page: http://e-vint.com/e-reutlinger.html. But it does seem likely that they also licensed their photographs out to others. I’ll let you know if I come across any more concrete information.
Yes, I believe that is correct. Reutlinger took photos himself and published them as postcards, but he likely did the same thing for ‘freelancers’. Leopold Reutlinger seems to have been highly skilled and more artistic than his uncle or his father. Images of WW1 aces he shot are easy to find, just look up Georges Guynemer for example- he is shown standing, without a hat. (Its the best known image of Guynemer and often copied). The photo was taken in Dec, 1915 and the Reutlinger logo usually appears in the lower right corner.
From what I could see a good number of your postcards (like mine) carry the initials SIP together with the Reutlinger logo. One wonders whether this was a postcard printer publishing photos of Reutlinger or whether the SIP initials somehow stand for the Reutlinger company. I have or have seen only a very few postacrds with just the Reutlinger logo and no other initials and these presumably are earlier ones as some of them also carry a date of 1900 or 1901 on the card.
SIP may have been the printer Reutlinger was using at the time-he used several over the years. Usually printers were credited on teh back of the cards, but perhaps he had a temprorary partnership arrangement with a printing firm or some other organization. Personally i’ve never seen the SIP logo, and a quick look at Bourgeron’s book about the Reutlinger studio doesn’t seem to mention them. Sorry for the long delayed reply. Happy New Year.
Thanks for this information, I found it very interesting and include it in a post http://www.collectorsweekly.com/stories/145119-another-two-postcards?in=user with a very interesting postcard.
Thanks for looking!
Beautiful! I have recently started collecting these types of postcards, mainly of famous stage stars of those days. I stumbled upon this site by researching these postcards. I am very interested in La Belle Epoque and famous stars of those days. Thank you for sharing this information and images of your own postcards. Do you happen to know of any books that may include information and/or photos of Reutlinger postcards? Thank you!
Hi i have come into a postcard that you may be able to help with if possible. It seems to be very rare and priced alot more then the rest of the collection its from.
Sounds interesting. What is the card? Do you want to send me a scan?
Hi, there is a book called Les Reutlinger – photographs a Paris 1850-1937 by JP Bourgeron, which is in French, but it’s mainly about the three photographers in the family. They produced a lot of postcards, it would be hard to put them in a single book. If you search the website Delcampe.net, you’ll find thousands of examples. Cheers.
The Bibliothèque Nationale de France has a number of Reutlinger’s albums on-line at:
I have just one of his cards, a sepia + one color stamped A. Noyer that I dearly love. Is there anyway to find out how old it is?
Interesting — so the card was published by Noyer but the photograph was taken by Reutlinger? The easiest marker for dating cards is that the divided back was introduced in France in 1905, so if the back is undivided it is before then. I think most of the Noyer cards I have are a good bit later — maybe 1920s? Seems like there is some good information at this webpage: http://www.abelard.org/france/dating_postcards.php
I too have a very large collection of Reutlinger postcards. Thank you for showing their beauty to the world.
Glad to hear from another fan!
Noyer was the printer/manufacturer
Anyone interested on the history of the Reutlinger family’s photographic studio and the previously discussed S.I.P initials on old Reutlinger postcards can consult the excellent and informative site: