Maddalena Carli

Crime pictures. Rodolphe Archibald Reiss’ forensic photography

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At the end of the 19 th century, the representation of faits divers involved the emerging field of criminology; its academics as well as institutional actors, consultants and especially the police force. The article focuses on the contribution of R.A. Reiss (1875-1929) to forensic photography, an activity to which he dedicated articles, publications and a long and rich work. Notably, Reiss was the founder of the Institut de Police Scientifique at the University of Lausanne – the first university police school in Europe. The article will analyze two aspects of his pictures. First, following the obsession with identification and anthropological typification which was typical of his time, Reiss maintained an explicit scientific concern. Second, his depiction of the murder site allows to reflect on what the space of the crime brings about its construction of the frame and its traces of life.


  • Rodolphe Archibald Reiss
  • Forensic Photography
  • Criminology


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