The story of the Parisian and exclusive Studio Harcourt

For more than 80 years, the Harcourt Paris signature has been synonymous with an exclusive and timeless experience. It draws inspiration from its glamorous roots in black-and-white cinema… Studio Harcourt is a photography studio that has been offering the world a unique experience beyond portraits since 1934. Having a photo taken at Harcourt in 2019 costs about 2.000 Euros.

 

Sans titre

Since 1934, Studio Harcourt has been immortalizing celebrities and anonymous people through its film projectors. Although the Studio prioritizes people seeking to enhance their image in a photo, it also opens its doors to the simply curious and amateurs from all walks of life.

The Studio Harcourt legend began in 1934

b0d9c4c01d729f609263e08436b9b5d1--studio-paris-photo-studioThanks to one woman: Cosette Harcourt. She was born Germaine Hirschefeld in Paris in 1900 to Percy Hirschefeld and Sophie Liebman, Jewish-German tradesmen who had settled in France. The family appears to have mmigrated to England during the First World War. Cosette Harcourt’s trail is picked up again in 1930 in Paris, where she studied photography at the Studio G. L. Manuel frères. She met Jacques Lacroix in 1933.Jacques and his brother Jean Lacroix were newspaper owners. They had created a magazine publishing house in 1927, which was thriving, and their journal Guérir was a major success with the general public in 1928. This led them to found an advertising agency called Pro-Publicité with Robert Ricci, the son of Nina Ricci, in 1933. He created Studio Harcourt with his brother and Robert Ricci after meeting Cosette, as well as another photography studio called Pro-Photo as a partner to Pro-Publicité.

Cosette was responsible for Studio Harcourt's organisation. The Studio's reputation was quickly established and it became a success. All of Paris came to glorify and immortalize their portraits. In 1938, the Lacroix brothers’ two studios were brought together in a private mansion at 49 Avenue d'Iéna in Paris. Jacques Lacroix married Cosette in August 1940 to protect her when the Second World War broke out. They divorced in 1946 but remained together for the rest of their lives. Cosette was obliged to leave Paris, staying in the South of France and then England. The studio stayed open for business in 1942 and Cosette resumed her role after the Liberation.

The golden age of Studio Harcourt beganstudio dharcourt 1

The Studio was everywhere: in titles owned by the Lacroix brothers, with the Agence France-Presse news agency, and in numerous cinemas and theatres where portraits of actors and actresses were displayed. The Studio was one of the first companies to approach private clients by telephone and the follow-up to each photography session was perfectly orchestrated. 

The Studio attracted many famous names

By that time, 24 people were working for the Studio. The number of clients grew from 8,000 in 1940 to 9,000 between 1951 and 1958. There were over a thousand clients a month, which was equivalent to around 40 clients a day.

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The temporary decline

Nevertheless, the arrival of the first reflex cameras and the French New Wave had a knock-on effect on Studio Harcourt’ success. The Lacroix brothers parted ways in 1969 and only Jacques remained. The Studio moved to Boulevard Haussmann in 1975. Cosette Harcourt died in 1976 and Jacques Lacroix sold off the Studio in 1980. The Hariri brothers brought the Studio to life again that same year at 9 Rue de la Paix.

studio dharcourt Calendrier-mural-Harcourt-2018-Les-stars-du-cinemaThe new life of the legendary Studio Harcourt 

In 2007, Studio Harcourt was bought by Francis Dagnan with Catherine Renard at the helm. Its tradition has been reinstated: there are no star photographers and all employees work for Studio Harcourt. This has provided the necessary stability and helped to perpetuate the legendary Studio Harcourt, where tradition and excellence are a measure of timeless modernity. 

The Studio Harcourt style

The Harcourt style[ was inspired by the work of French cinematographer Henri Alekan. Around the time of World War II, Cosette Harcourt and her husband created a magazine, called Stars, to serve as an outlet for studio photos. During the occupation of France by the Nazis, German officers and many members of the Vichy regime visited the studios, just as the Americans did after the French Liberation. After the war, Harcourt regained its momentum with movie star photography, continuing the tradition that made it successful initially.

Studio Harcourt photos archives

In 2000, Harcourt’s collections from between 1934 and 1991 (about 5 million negatives of 550,000 persons and 1,500 celebrities) were purchased by the State and stored at the Médiathèque de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine at the Fort de Saint-Cyr on the initiative of Jack Lang, who was the Minister of Culture at the time. 

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Studio Harcourt in Paris can be visited 

Housed in a 19th-century townhouse, the Studio shares the secrets of its expertise with you and invites to see its extensive photographic heritage. As for a portrait session, the visit begins with the make-up room, dedicated to enhancing the beauty of the model, a veritable boudoir with bygone charm. The tour continues on the photo set with a real light demonstration in the company of a Studio Harcourt photographer. The visit finishes with a look around the prestigious Studio’s exhibition space and its archive treasures in the Curiotheque. Documentaries, reportage photos, authentic material and unknown gems are revealed via fun and interactive devices.

The studio is currently located at 6, rue de Lota in the 16th arrondisment of Paris. 

Photos © Studio Harcourt

Sophie - Lifestyle

Bonjour, my name is Sophie. I live in the heart of Paris. I’ve always loved to travel and, over the years, I developed it into a real art: the right addresses, the suitcase, how to manage fatigue with my Parisian look! From Cannes to Antigua, from the red carpet to Pilates, I have to live up to the reputation. I have small apartments in Paris that I rent out. I love to personally welcome my guests and give them some recommendations about life in Paris “living like a true Parisian and not like a simple tourist in an elegant private suit in the heart of the city”.

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