R.S. – Photo Albums by Renée Schwarzenbach-Wille
Renée Schwarzenbach-Wille (1883-1959) was the youngest daughter of General Ulrich Wille, the supreme commander of the Swiss army in World War I, and his wife Clara, née the Countess of Bismarck. In 1904 Renée Wille married Alfred Schwarzenbach, co-proprietor of the world’s then largest silk company. The couple had five children, the third of which was the writer and photographer Annemarie Schwarzenbach (1908–1942). They lived in Zurich until 1912, and subsequently on the Bocken estate near Horgen, where Renée Schwarzenbach-Wille trained for riding competitions and ran a musical salon, which was frequented by high-calibre musicians. She died in Konstanz in 1959.
Renée Schwarzenbach-Wille started taking photographs at the age of fourteen and made her final picture six months before her death in 1959. From the very beginning, she developed and printed most of her photographs herself in her own darkroom. She filed her unfailingly carefully inscribed and dated photographs, marked with a Roman figure and her monogram – thus the title of the exhibition R.S. – in red, linen-bound albums of identical size. Renée Schwarzenbach-Wille’s photo albums, which numbered over a hundred, form the main part of the exhibition project. They are not only a historical document that is unique in Switzerland, they are also – and above all – the visual diary of an exceptional woman who photographed all the events and developments of her life that were important to her, including the negative ones.
The exhibition was curated by Alexis Schwarzenbach and Urs Stahel.
Main sponsors: Volkart Stiftung, Cassinelli-Vogel-Stiftung