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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Carl Rau

Dates:  1858, 3 November - 1940, 29 December
Born:  Germany, Wurtemberg
Died:  US, WI, La Crosse

Preparing biographies

Approved biography for Carl Rau
(Courtesy of Christian Peterson)

Carl G. Rau was born in Wurtemberg, Germany, on November 3, 1858. He received art instruction as a boy, and moved with his mother to Dubuque, Iowa, when he was about thirteen, after the death of his father. He went to school for a short time and worked a few odd jobs before moving in 1880 to La Crosse, Wisconsin, where he applied for U.S. naturalization.
Rau got an office job at the firm of R. G. Dun, and in 1882 started work at the John A. Salzer Seed Company, where he would remain the rest of his business career. He married into the Salzer family in 1887, and worked at the company as a bookkeeper, secretary, general manager, and as president from 1928 to 1932, when he retired. He was a founding member of the Salzer Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church and taught Sunday school there for thirty years. Rau collected art and painted figure and landscape canvases.
In December 1903, Rau and Louis Fleckenstein, of Faribault, Minnesota, formed the Salon Club of America, to promote a populist standard of pictorial photography. Originally, the club assembled portfolios that circulated among its members, but it soon became instrumental in organizing the American Photographic Salons, a series of nine annual exhibitions beginning in 1904. The salons traveled around the country for about half a year making stops at up to fourteen venues. Rauís work was included in the first (1904-05) and sixth (1909-10) salons, and he served on the national preliminary jury for the second and third ones.
Rau exhibited elsewhere modestly around this time, including at the 1909 annual exhibition of the Wyoming Camera Club in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Juries for the Chicago Photographic Salon accepted his work in 1902 and 1903, and the catalog for the latter reproduced one of his images. He wrote four articles for the American Annual of Photography between 1899 and 1908, on such topics as portraiture and genre pictures. The annual also reproduced his images in 1904 and 1905. His subjects included nudes, still lifes, and landscapes. Carl Rau died after a long illness, at his La Crosse home, on December 29, 1940. 
Christian A. Peterson Pictorial Photography at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (Christian A. Peterson: Privately printed, 2012) 
This biography is courtesy and copyright of Christian Peterson and is included here with permission. 
Date last updated: 1 June 2013. 
We welcome institutions and scholars willing to test the sharing of biographies for the benefit of the photo-history community. The biography above is a part of this trial.
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