The Reutlingers


The Reutlingers were a French family of German descent. The family photographic business was founded in Paris in 1850 by Charles Reutlinger, and the studio became famous for its portraits of the actors, artists, musicians, composers, opera singers and ballet dancers of the period. In 1880, Charles handed over his studio to his brother, Emile Reutlinger. In 1883, Emile‘s son, Léopold-Emile Reutlinger, who had been born in Peru in 1863, arrived in Paris and began to work for his father, eventually taking over the Reutlinger studio in 1890. He produced the firm‘s first known erotic photographs.


Léopold produced a vast number of images. As well as its business taking commercial portraits, the studio also mass-produced, for public consumption, portraits of performers, showgirls, singers and stars and starlets of the theatre. The photographs that Léopold took for advertisements in magazines and newspapers made him one of the most successful operators in his field. He frequently held exhibitions of his work in the offices of the newspapers he worked for, and the glamorous and flattering results of his work meant that he was held in high esteem by the glitterati of the theatrical world as well as the demi-monde. Léopold continued at the helm of a very successful business until he lost an eye in an accident with a champagne cork in 1930, forcing him into retirement. He died in Paris on 16 March 1937.


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