Martin Hürlimann

Portrait of Martin   Hürlimann

Martin Hürlimann (12 November 1897, Zürich, Switzerland — 4 March 1984, Zürich), was a Swiss publisher, musicologits and self-taught photographer who visited extensively Asia in the 1920s and 1930s, including Cambodia.

In 1929, he founded the magazine Atlantis in Berlin, specializing in countries, travels and peoples, and one year later the Atlantis Verlag publishing house, incorporating to it the Orbis Terrarum series from Wasmuth Publishers. Ater opening a branch in Zurich in 1939, he moved the whole operation to Switzerland in 1939 due to the Nazi takeover, maintaining a branch in Freiburg im Breisgau. His wife since 1933, Bettina Kiepenheuer, the oldest daughter of Gustav Kiepenheuer, another publisher, actively participated in the publishing work. 

Traveling in Europe and Asia from 1922, he visited Ceylon [Sri Lanka], Burma [Myanmar], Siam [Thailand], Annam, Yunnan, and Cambodia, and was in Phnom Penh in 1926, when he took a since-then famous yet seldom credited photograph of George Groslier at his desk in the Musée Albert Sarraut. In India, he traveled and photographed numerous areas, including Rajasthan, Kashmir, Peshawar, Amristar, Srinagar, Bengal, Madras. 

George Groslier hodling a Khmer Prajnaparamita statue at his desk in 1926, by Martin Hürlimann (© National Museum of Cambodia) [first attributer to MH by Kent Davis in his edition of Cambodian Dancers, 2011.]

His photographs of India and Southeast Asia — mainly taken with a Sinclair Una camera, Zeiss lens and Kodak films, according to their author — reflect his interest in daily life scenes, local artworks and architectural structures. In typical multilingual Swiss fashion, he captioned his pictures in German, English, Italian and French.

Lady with musical instrument in Bengal”, circa 1930, by Martin Hürlimann (from his book India”, Bombay, 1932)
The author (second right) assessing photographs for a holiday photo contest held by the magazine Atlantis in 1954 (©Fotostiftung Schweiz, Winterthur)


  • Burma, Ceylon, Indo-China. Siam, Cambodia, Annam, Tongking, Yunnan. Landscape, Architecture, Inhabitants, B. Westermann Co., New York, 1930.
  • Die Schweiz, Landschaft und Baukunst [Switzerland, Landscape and Architecture], Atlantis Verlag, Zurich,1931.
  • Indien: Baukunst, Landschaft und Volksleben [India, Architecture, Landscape and Folk Life] , Atlantis Verlag, Berlin, 1932.
  • India: The Landscape, The Monuments and the People, D.B. Tarapolevala Sons & Co., Bombay, 1932 (digitized by The Rare Book Society of India).
  • Atlantisbuch der Musik [The Atlantis Book of Music], Atlantis Verlag, Berlin, 1934.
  • Das Mittelmeer: Landschaft, Baukunst und Volksleben im Kreise des Mittelländischen Meeres [The Mediterranean: Landscape, Architecture and Folk Life around the Mediterranean Sea], Atlantis Verlag, Zurich, 1937.
  • Gotische Kathedralen in Frankreich, Atlantis-Verlag, Zurich, 1937.
  • Die Grosse Schweizer, Atlantis Verlag, Zurich, 1938.
  • Frankreich: Baukunst, Landschaft Und Volksleben [France: Architecture, Landscape and People], Berlin, 1937.
  • Ewiges Griechenland [Eternal Greece], Atlantis Verlag, Zurich, 1944.
  • Eternal France: 216 Pictures in Photogravure, with an appreciation by Paul Valéry and Historical Notes, Thames & Hudson, London, 1952 (1rst edition). 
  • Italy, Thames & Hudson, London, 1953.
  • Vienna, Thames & Hudson, London, 1955.
  • London, Thames & Hudson, London, 1956.
  • Wiedersehen mit Asien [See You Again, Asia], Atlantis Verlag, Zurich, 1959.
  • Hong Kong, Thames & Hudson, London, 1962.
  • India, Thames & Hudson, London, 1967.
  • Zurich: The City and Canton, Atlantis, Zurich, 1974.
  • Zeitgenosse aus der Enge: Erinnerungen [Memoirs], Atlantis Verlag, Zurich, 1977.
  • Musikerhandschriften aus funf Jahrhunderten [Musicians’ Manuscripts from Five Centuries], Schott (French Edition), Paris, 1993 ISBN 978 – 3254001078.