I am delighted to inform readers that my friend Stuart has decided to share images from his extensive postcard collection. I replaced images that were of poor quality and it is interesting to see the variations. As more samples come in, they will be added. -Ron
There are a lot of charming images of girls in bath scenes. Most are just the spontaneous records of parents, but in the Victorian and Edwardian eras, the cult of the child had a strong hold on the European psyche. So it stands to reason that many companies produced staged sentimental portraits of bathtime.
In my opinion, one of the most charming is a series produced by Atelier Reutlinger (Reutlinger Photography Studio) in Paris. When I first saw one of these on a sales site, I had no idea that they could fetch upwards of $50 each. I only managed to acquire one of the cheaper versions recently.
Although this particular series (of perhaps a dozen poses) was probably shot by Léopold-Emile Reutlinger (1863-1937) himself, he was actually the third to run the studio. It was founded by Charles Reutlinger in 1850 and through the quality of his work, leveraged his way into the hearts of rich and famous people including models, actors and dancers who would have been instantly recognized in public. There are some charming examples of children as well—perhaps close relatives of other sitters.
In 1880, Charles handed over control to his brother Emile and ten years later it was passed on to his son Léopold. Being raised in Peru, Léopold was eager for the opportunity to run such an important enterprise and he introduced a number of innovations which became the hallmark of the studio name. By this time, it was postcards that kept photography studios and photographers financially afloat, so he made the company’s cards distinctive with meticulous hand-tinting and incorporating art nouveau overlays into the images to add visual interest. The studio was shut down in 1930 after Léopold lost an eye in an accident.
Whether the images were proper portraits or soft erotica, they all conveyed a sense of glamour. This girl in various bath scenes may have been shot using some elegant props but none that I have seen had any art overlay and only some had hand-tinting. These are very hard to find, so I have been beating the bushes to find them or at least persuade collectors to share quality scans with us.
None of these images appear in any online collections, but if you want to see more Reutlinger productions, I recommend visiting Wonderings which also has links to other sites. I do have one other example that I had seen before I was aware that images could be copied from websites, so it is a bad second-hand copy from a printout I made. I hope someone will come forward with a better example of this image.
Because other bloggers may be a little leery about posting some of these because of the nudity, this is the ideal site for displaying them. Therefore, I urge anyone owning any examples of this series to please come forward and send me some quality scans so they can be put on display here. Pip can touch up most simple flaws that may exist in any specimens you may have. Thank you, -Ron