Born in 1816 in Karlsruhe, Germany, Charles (also known as Carl or Karl) Reutlinger was the fourth child of a well-to-do Jewish wine retailer. An aunt introduced the impressionable boy to art, and by age 18, he was a traveling silhouette portrait artist. Fascinated by the new daguerreotype process, Mr. Reutlinger received additional instruction by his mentor and fellow silhouette artist Georg Friedrich Brandseph. Based in Stuttgart, he married Therese, who assisted him while he perfected his photographic style and mastered the intricacies of daguerreotyping while working at his cousin's plate factory. In 1849, Mr. Reutlinger opened his photographic gallery at 8 Furtbachstrasse.
Within a year, he made the fateful decision to settle in Paris and opened the Reutlinger Studio on the Boulevard Montmartre with his younger brother Emile. Specializing in portraits, cartes-des-visite, cabinet photographs, and nudes, he quickly established himself as an accomplished celebrity photographer of actors, artists, composers, operatic soloists, and ballet dancers. His portraits won prestigious awards in Berlin, Hamburg, and at Paris's World Exhibition. Mr. Reutlinger further cemented his professional reputation as an active member of the Societe Francaise de Photographie. While he cultivated a predominantly elite clientele, Mr. Reutlinger himself stood in stark contrast with his casual appearance and good-natured, unassuming demeanor. His choice in photographic instruments was equally simplistic, utilizing one for large portraits, cabinet vignettes, and reproductions and enlargements and a Dallmeyer with two objectives for his cartes-des-visite.
His small glass studio had a northern exposure and was topped with a stained glass roof. In the summertime, Mr. Reutlinger shielded his roof with a blind he manipulated with an indoor crank, and varied shading with six different blue calico screen curtains. His practice was to pose and light his sitters for vignettes from only one side. Despite limited studio space, he had 28 employees, with colorists and retouchers mostly working from their homes. His efficient laboratory was subdivided into areas for plate cleaning, plate preparation, and negative development. There is an adjoining room for negative enlargements, and a storage room for plates of all sizes. Over time, every room contained boxes of preserved negatives totaling more than 100,000. It appears Mr. Reutlinger became ill in 1880, the year he turned over studio operations to his brother. Emile Reutlinger was later joined by his son Leopold-Emile (an acclaimed master of erotic portraiture). Charles Reutlinger died in 1881, and after his nephew Leopold-Emile assumed complete control of the studio, he concentrated primarily upon erotica, advertising photographs, and print reproductions. Leopold-Emile Reutlinger was forced into retirement after losing an eye in a freak accident suffered while opening a bottle of champagne. The Reutlinger Studio ceased operations in 1937.
2008 Glamour: A History by Stephen Gundle (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press), pp. 102-103.
2014 The Passions of Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux by James David Draper and Edouard Papet (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art), p. 222.
1869 The Philadelphia Photographer (Philadelphia: Benerman and Wilson), pp. 115-116.
1874 The Philadelphia Photographer (Philadelphia: Benerman and Wilson), pp. 4-6.
2003 The Portraits of Hector Berlioz, Part 1 by Gunther Braam (Kassel, Germany: Bärenreiter), p. 271.
2014 Theater Star Yvonne Sautrot: Portrait by Reutlinger in Paris, France (URL: https://cabinetcardgallery.wordpress.com/2013/10/19/theater-star-yvonne-sautrot-portrait-by-reutlinger-in-paris-france).
1901 Wilson's Photographic Magazine, Vol. XXXVIII (New York: Edward L. Wilson), p. 13.
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