Lehnert (1878- 1948) was born in Gross Aupa (now Velká Úpa), then in Bohemia and now in the Czech Republic. With Ernst Heinrich Landrock, he based a photographic company in, successively, Tunis, Munich, Leipzig and Cairo, publishing the works as by “Lehnert & Landrock”.
Together with Ernst Heinrich Landrock Lehnert started a photographic atelier and business in Tünis in 1904. During World War I all their material got confiscated by the French Government. When the war ended Lehnert moved from Switzerland to Egypt and together with Landrock they re-established their studio in Caïro in 1924. In 1930 Lehnert moved with his familie to Tunisia and opened a studio in Tunis, Landrock managed the store in Cairo and in 1938 Landrock sells his share of the business to his stepson Kurt Lambelet and returns to Germany. From that point the company went on with the name Lehnert & Landrock. Still today the son of Kurt Lambelet (Edouard Lambelet) owns the Lehnert and Landrock Bookshop and Art Gallery in Cairo.
I came across this quote in a bio for this photographer:
‘From the 1860s onwards photographs of people with different cultural values and sexual morality became popular for artistic and erotic reasons. These nude images often say more about the fantasies and culture of the photographers than about the portrayed cultures.’
According to Pascal Baetens these photos border on racism and ethnocentrism. But perhaps the photographer noticed a certain beauty in these haremgirls and tried to capture it. For sure is that Rudolf Lehnert allowed us to peek into a world that was hidden and the subject of many fantasies, written as well as painted. In time men has always been intrigued by beautifull woman wearing chains and slave juwelery and it is not unthinkable Lehnert had the same fascination. Remarkable for instance is the fact he photographed many different females in various posed, one might onder why he did so? Be sure to check out the only serie where a young female is bound in different poses and even has a breast bondage. I could not determine why this was.