Karl Rittsel

A Swedish photographer in Petrozavodsk, Russia

No one else will ever devote a chapter to Karl Johanson. He was one of my father's uncles, and like the majority of his brothers and sisters he took the family name Rittsel in the mid 1910s.
He ran a large studio from 1894 in Petrozavodsk, the capital of the Russian Republic of Karelia, close to the Finnish border and beautifully situated on the shore of lake Onega.
The family escaped the revolution in 1918 by a long trip via the Black Sea and arrived in Stockholm with few belongings other than a sewing machine and a bag full of Russian rubles – soon to become worthless.
His son, Karl J:r eventually opened a studio in Södertälje, a small town just south of Stockholm.

The Russian studio photographs (cabinet sized) show  precisely what pictorialist Herman Hamnqvist referred to when he challenged the traditional interiors of the 1890s: "Clear the studios from the old junk, get rid of those ugly palace backgrounds, that strange furniture, all those universal props without any likeness to reality ..."

Family pictures. Karl and his wife seated on the last picture.
"He was a large, powerful man who liked hunting bears"
is a quote I remember from my father.