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: