Léon & Lévy

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Léon & Lévy was in 19th century Paris based French photographer studio whose owner under the signature L. L. in particular stereoscopies and postcards . The company was - after the Neurdein Frères publishing house - the second most important publisher of illustrated postcards in France.


The company Léon & Lévy was founded during the French Second Empire in 1864 by Isaac , known as Georges Lévy (1833–1913), and his father-in-law Moyse Léon (* 1812). The two had previously worked as assistants in the Parisian photography studio Ferrier-Soulier and had taken over the holdings of Ferrier, Fils et Soulier in 1864 . This inventory was recorded in a new edition of the catalog that was first published in 1859 (at that time around 2000 photos) with around 7000 numbered photographs and already contained views from Egypt , Syria and Constantinople . The company had taken over the photo plates of the Galerie universelle des Peuples from the photo publisher Varroquier and sold them as stereo cards with colored back in the L&L Collection. Through their own studio, they sold editions of photo prints with their signature LL , initially especially stereoscopic images on albumen paper .

Collection LL Syrian Women in Beirut, stereo map 1865
Bilingual subtitled light pressure - stereoscopy as postcard ;
Motif LL 22 from Germany , river water art in Hanover

For the World's Fair in 1867 , Léon & Lévy received permission to make stereoscopic images of the event; her work was awarded the Great Gold Medal of the (French) Emperor.

In 1869, on the occasion of the inauguration of the Suez Canal , the duo financed the “Journey on the Nile ” with 300 pictures by the photographer Auguste-Rosalie Bisson .

From 1874 Isaac Georges Levy continued to run the company alone and renamed the studio to J. Lévy et Cie , until the company was renamed Lévy & fils ("Lévy & Sons") in 1895 when his sons Abraham Lucien and Gaspard Ernest joined . The signature LL was retained, however, it was not registered as a trademark until 1901 .

The signature LL is often confused with the L&L of the Lehnert & Landrock studio , which was founded in Tunis in 1904. The so-called "Louis Levy error" was based on the claim that LL stood for Louis Levy and Sons , a company founded in London in 1905 . In addition, there is said to have been an American photographer named Louis Levy in the 19th century.

In the meantime, another photo catalog was published in 1889, which, according to views from Spain and Morocco, now offered around 30,000 images from Europe , Asia , Africa and America to choose from. Compared with the older catalogs, there is a noticeable change from the reserved poetry of the Second Empire to a more frontal and decidedly more commercial representation in line with the politically pursued French colonialism from 1870 onwards .

Between 1864 and 1917 the company developed extensive activities, in addition to individual photographs, album compilations, for example from trips through Spain, Portugal , Morocco and America. Numbered stereoscopic postcards produced using collotype printing , for example with motifs from Germany with bilingual subtitles, were also part of the company's offer. More than 60,000 partly large-format reproductions in black and white or hand- colored are known under the signature LL .

At the time of the First World War the company was closed in 1917: "After 1913", the year of Georges Lévy's death, the company Lévy et fils was bought by the printer Emile Crété , who had also bought the Neurdein stock . This merged the two holdings to form Lévy & Neurdein réunis , which became the Compagnie des Arts Photomécaniques (CAP) in 1932 .

Compagnie des Arts Photomécaniques

Colored picture postcard No. 6300 “La Siesta ”; half-naked woman and logo of CAP
CAP No. 1241 : "The beautiful Zineb"

As the most important iconographic source for the Maghreb , the holdings of Lévy and Neurdin and the Compagnie des Arts Photomécaniques (CAP) are now considered to be the archetype of the colonialists' erotic ideal that originated in Paris : Oriental women were mainly depicted in a degrading aesthetic . A careful study of these pictures reveals the intention to encourage the viewer to “restrain”.

Around 1970 Lévy and Neurdin's holdings were sold to the Roger-Viollet photo agency (see web links), which to this day (as of 12/2013) sells works of art for nostalgics as well as historians to illustrate their treatises .


  • In the collection Marian S. Carson Collection of the US Library of Congress nine stereo copies of For the World Fair of 1867, their authorship in Léon & Lévy is suspected.


  • John Hannavy (Eds.): Léon Moysé & Lévy, Ferrier, Claude-Marie and Charles Soulier. In: Encyclopedia of Nineteenth-century Photography (English), Volume I, AL, Index , Taylor & Francis, 2007, p. 852 and others; partly online via Google books
  • Joanne Adolphe: Le Guide Parisienne , Paris, 1863, p. 39 (in French, praising the glass stereoscopies by Léon & Lévy)
  • Nancy B. Keeler: Illustrating the 'Reports by the Juries' of the Great Exhibition of 1851 ... , In: History of Photographie , Vol. 6, 1982, pp. 257-272, in the series Sir David Brewster: The Stereoscope . Its History, Theory and Construction
  • Elizabeth Anne McCauley: Industrial Madness. Commercial Photographs in Paris. 1848-1871 , New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1994
  • John Murray , 1856 (Reprint by Morgan & Morgan, 1971)
  • Naomi Schor: Cartes Postales: Representing Paris 1900 . In: Jordana Mendelson, David Prochaska (Eds.): Postcards: ephermal history of modernity . The Pennsylvania State University, University Park 2010, pp. 1-23, ISBN 978-0-271-03528-4
  • Jean-Marie Voignier: Les Vues Stéréoscopiques de Ferrier et Soulier , Paris: Edition du Palmier en Zinc, 1992 (contains the treatment of the first three company catalogs from 1859, 1864 and 1870)

Web links

Commons : Léon & Lévy  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Commons : Compagnie des Arts Photomécaniques  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e f g h Paul-Antoine Briat, Alexandre de Metz (owner): Léon et Levy (see under the section Weblinks )
  2. a b c d e f g h i j k l m Michel Mégnin: LEON & LEVY ... (see the section on web links )
  3. Mikebisson: LL postcards (see section web links )
  4. a b Compare the documentation at Commons (see under the section Web Links )
  5. Compare MOYSE LÉON & GEORGES LÉVY / En pays touareg ( Memento of the original from September 16, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (in French) from imagesingulieres.com , last accessed December 25, 2013 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.imagesingulieres.com
  6. Stereographs of the Paris Exposition of 1867 on lccn.loc.gov , last accessed December 25, 2013