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Rudolf Lehnert (1878-1948) was born in Bohemia, then a part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. In 1903 a walking tour across Europe led eventually to Palermo and from there to Tunisia. Overwhelmed by the beauty of the country he began what would become a lifelong career as a photographer, working primarily in North Africa but also briefly in Egypt and Palestine.
On his return to Europe he met Ernst Landrock (1878-1966) in Switzerland and showed him his photographs. The two men returned to Tunis together where in 1904 they lived and worked in a small "dâr" in the médina at 7 rue des Tamis. They moved in 1907 to 17 avenue de France and in 1911 to the former studio of Garrigues at 9 avenue de France.
Although the photographs they produced were signed with both their names, it was Lehnert who was the photographer and Landrock the businessman who made them possible. He ran the studio in Tunis and later, after World War I, in Cairo. He also managed the laboratory, organized Lehnert‘s caravans into the desert, and marketed their products. He remained behind in Cairo when Lehnert, homesick for Tunisia, sold out his share of the business and returned to Tunis in 1930.
In 1939 Lehnert retired to Carthage and when his wife died in 1944, he settled with his daughter and son-in-law at the Tunisian oasis of Gafsa, where he died in 1948.
Landrock continued in Cairo in close partnership with his Swiss son-in-law Kurt Lambelet, overseeing the transformation of Lehnert and Landrock into a centre for fine art prints. Sensing that another war was coming, he sold his share of the business to his son-in-law. He never returned to Egypt and in 1966 he died in Switzerland.
[Contributed by Paul Frecker and with additional information provided by Michel Mégnin]
A biography of these photographers is available:
Michel Mégnin "Tunis 1900, Lehnert & Landrok photographers", (Paris, Paris-Méditerranée & Tunis, Apollonia, 2005)