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Guillermo Kahlo (born Carl Wilhelm Kahlo; 26 October 1871 – 14 April 1941) was a German Mexican photographer. He photographically documented important architectural works, churches, streets, landmarks, as well as industries and companies in Mexico at the beginning of the 20th century; because of this, his work has not only artistic value but also historical and documental importance.

Early life and education

Kahlo was born in Pforzheim, Grand Duchy of Baden, German Empire (now in Baden-Württemberg, Germany), the son of jeweller Jakob Heinrich Kahlo and Henriette Kaufmann.[1] His daughter Frida Kahlo maintained that he was of Hungarian-Jewish descent.[1] A 2005 book,[2] by Gaby Franger and Rainer Huhle, traced Kahlo's genealogy, and stated that "despite the legend propagated by Frida," Guillermo did not have Jewish Hungarian roots, but was born to Lutheran parents who "came from families accommodated in Frankfurt and Pforzheim."[3]

He attended the University of Nuremberg. His father paid him to travel to Mexico in 1891 as he did not get along with his stepmother. In Mexico, Wilhelm adopted the Spanish equivalent of his name "Guillermo." In July 1894 he solicited Mexican citizenship.[4]


Kahlo's earliest known photograph is from 1897.[4] His first project with Secretary of Finance José Yves Limantour was in 1900.[4]

Kahlo usually used large glass plates that measured 8in x 10in to 11in x 14in.[4]

In 1901 he set up a photographic studio, working for El Mundo Ilustrado and Semanario Ilustrado. He was commissioned by the government to do architectural photographs, probably his best work. He also took photographs of churches with other photographers for a six-volume survey in the 1920s.

Personal life

Kahlo married María Cardena in August, 1893.[5] The night she died giving birth to their third child, he asked Antonio Calderón for his daughter Matilde’s hand in marriage. After the marriage, Kahlo sent his and Maria’s daughters away to be raised in a convent.

Kahlo and Calderón were the parents of painter Frida Kahlo and Cristina Kahlo. Frida once commented that in her childhood she would sometimes be present when her father suffered from epileptic seizures and would give him aid.[4]

He died on 14 April 1941 in Coyoacán, Mexico City.

In popular media

Kahlo was played by Roger Rees in the 2002 film Frida.

See also

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