Georges Leuzinger, born in the city of Mollis, canton of Glarus, Switzerland, was more than a pioneering photographer responsible for capturing much of the 18th-century iconography of Rio; as an entrepreneur, he was also the most important figure in the history of its promotion.
Within 20 years, his shop was destined to become an editorial powerhouse under the name Casa Leuzinger, the center of a publishing circuit that would keep Brazil in step with the best of European photographic production – an even more notable accomplishment, considering that up to 1808, the Portuguese monarchy had banned all typography firms in the colony.
As a photographer, Georges Leuzinger systematically documented the city of Rio de Janeiro over the course of the 1860s, including urban scenes, views of Niterói, the Serra dos Órgãos, and Teresópolis.
The IMS holds the largest collection of works by Leuzinger and Albert Frisch, a photographer hired by the former, for a total of more than 500 items. In 2000, through a donation by descendants of the Swiss photographer, it acquired an archive of 290 documents, images, and family letters that his son Paul collected from 1850 to 1903. This material allows one to trace the story of Casa Leuzinger and its founder with heretofore-unseen scope and precision.