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12 January 2014

The Reutlinger Studio

The Reutlinger Studio in Paris was opened in Paris in 1850 and took photos of the rich and famous until 1937. Reutlinger was known for their unusual Art Nouveau styles of postcard designs, especially for portraits of actresses. This is the first post in a new series on star photographers.

Sarah Bernhardt
Sarah Bernhardt. British postcard by Rotary Photo Co., London, no. 228A. Sent by mail in 1905. Photo: Reutlinger, Paris.

Gabrielle Robinne
Gabrielle Robinne. French postcard by A.N., Paris, in the series Les Vedettes du Cinéma, no. 13. Photo: Reutlinger

Huguette Duflos
Huguette Duflos. French postcard by A.N., Paris, in the series Les Vedettes du Cinéma, no.  16. Photo: Reutlinger.

A Successful Postcard Business


The Reutlinger studio was founded by Charles Reutlinger, of German descent. The studio passed on to Charles’ brother Emile in 1880, who ran the studio until 1890.

In 1883, Emile’s son Léopold Reutlinger (1863) came to Paris from Callao, Peru, where he grew up. Léopold took over in 1890, and he developed a very successful postcard business. He photographed the stars of the Moulin Rouge and the Folies Bergère.

He became one of the most requested portrait photographers of the Belle Epoque and he photographed among others Mata Hari, Cleo de Merode, Geraldine Farrar, Polar, Colette, Sarah Bernhardt Leonie Yahne, Liane the Pougy, Anna Held, La Belle Otero and Lina Cavalieri. Many of his pictures were sold to leading newspapers and magazines.

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.


Lina Cavalieri
Lina Cavalieri. French postcard by S.I.P., no. 180/1. Photo: Reutlinger, Paris.

Lina Cavalieri
Lina Cavalieri. French postcard by S.I.P., no. 188/9. Sent by mail in 1906. Photo: Reutlinger, Paris.

Germaine Gallois
Germaine Gallois.French postcard by Olympia / S.I.P., no. 194/18. Photo: Reutlinger, Paris.

Robinne
Gabrielle Robinne. French postcard, no. 181/10. Sent by mail in 1903. Photo: Reutlinger.

Robinne
Gabrielle Robinne. French postcard by S.I.P., no. 865/17. Sent by mail in 1904. Photo: Reutlinger, Paris.

Art Nouveau Fantasy Overlays


The earliest Reutlinger postcards in our collection date roughly from 1900-1902. They 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 centre.

In the several years that followed, the Reutlinger studio began to experiment with colour tinting, different stylization, and more outlandish or novel photomontage techniques.

P.K. Hobbs at Everything Vintage: "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."

In 1904, divided backs were permitted in France. Till then the back was reserved for the recipient’s address and all messages had to appear on the front. It explains the handwriting on the front of some cards in this post. 

Robinne
Gabrielle Robinne. French postcard by S.I.P., no. 1342. Sent by mail in 1906. Photo: Reutlinger, Paris.

Sylvie
Sylvie. French postcard by S.I.P. Sent by mail in 1906. Photo: Reutlinger, Paris.

Lina Cavalieri
Lina Cavalieri. French postcard by S.I.P., no. 1188. Sent by mail in 1906. Photo: Reutlinger, Paris.

Lina Cavalieri
Lina Cavalieri. French postcard, no. 1188. Sent by mail in 1906. Photo: Reutlinger, Paris.

Gabrielle Robinne
Gabrielle Robinne. French postcard. Photo Reutlinger, Paris. 04-69.

Sources: P.K. Hobbs (Everything Vintage), Victor (Wonderings), and Wikipedia.

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