Van Neck, Louis



Person (Male)

Alternative name or descriptor

  • Royal Photographic Manufactory

Standardized form(s) of name according to other rules


  • Connected


Life dates

Brussels - Molenbeek, 1853 - Antwerp, 1917


1884 - 1908 / Anvers, Klapdorp, 10 (& 10 bis<90-07>)
Successor: Reynkens Jules
Louis Marie Corneille, ° 10.1.1853; + 10.9.1917. Pharmacist. Sold photographic chemicals and supplies. Possibly the finest and most inventive Belgian camera manufacturer in the 19th century. Established at this address from 1879 onwards as pharmacist and dealer in chemicals. Subsequently advertising photographic equipment in May 1884 (De Koophandel, 31.5.1884). A fire destroyed a part of his warehouse here on 31.7.1889 (Le Soir, 3.8.1889). Agent for Kodak in 1890.
Patent of 16.9.1889 [Van Neck, Brussels] for "a new camera system, the ‘Ultime’ [fitted with a "vlug terug" (quick return) mirror]" - a system which was patented in England in 1890; patent of 30.11.1891 for "a new camera with simplified plate-changing mechanism, the ‘Excellentis’"; patent of 28.2.1893 for "a new system for photographic enlarging and reducing"; patent of 15.9.1893 for "a new, simple stereoscopic camera, the ‘Royal Excellentis L. V. N.’"; patent of 9.2.1897 for "a new support system with rigid and collapsible frame for use in photography". He invented and commercialised the automatic enlarger (1889), the Vade-Mecum (1894-1899), the Alpha (1893), etc. Watson & Sons of London were manufacturing Van Neck's cameras under license by 1890.
Van Neck manufactured dry plates under the trademark "Antwerpia Helio", c. 1890. He also commercialised accessories designed by Abbé Coupé, the Dupont printing frame and J. De Neck’s hat camera (1885). In an article in the "British Journal of Photography", 1890, it was stated that his factory in Merxem - probably on the Drayé brothers’ premises (see that name) - employed 30 people. Member of the "Cercle d'études photographiques et scientifiques d'Anvers". He gave a lecture on chronophotography in 1904. A dramatic study of a firework at night, in an album presented by the Antwerp section of the ABP to Albéric Lunden in 1888, in the collection of the Photography Museum in Antwerp, illustrates Van Neck's early interest in high-speed photography. He was also a pioneering motion picture exhibitor from 1902 onwards. He took stereo views of the "Old Antwerp" neighbourhood reconstructed at the 1894 Antwerp Universal Exhibition, published by E. Lyon - Claesen.
Agencies in 1893 in Ostend, Rue Christine, 127, and in Namur on the pharmacist Gilson’s premises. “Studio for photomechanical printing / blocks for photogravure, halftone, zincography” on the Klapdorp premises (Hélios illustré, 1.3.1896). Van Neck was declared bankrupt in March 1898 but appears to have regained solvency very swiftly. During this episode, the premises here were put up for sale and described as "a large building on three floors on the street side with a photography studio and a one-storey rear extension, for a total of 475 sq. metres" (Het Handelsblad, 19.3.1898). President of the "Chambre des marchands de produits et fournitures générales pour la photographie" by the end of 1901 and throughout 1902.
A fire destroyed his studio at this address on 26.3.1902; the damage was estimated at over 100 000 francs (L'Indépendance Belge, 28.3.1902). Van Neck was still recorded in Klapdorp 10 in the 1908 directory as an optician and his last advertisement at this address, for a patent medicine, was dated 29.2.1908. Simultaneously, Van Neck had entered into partnership with Henri Rubbens in the studio at Rue des Cérises, 7 operating as successors to Hugo Piéron (- Loodts), 1907-1911.
1889 - 1893 / Bruxelles, Montagne aux Herbes Potagères, 9
Successor: Steppe Fl. & Cie (1891)
Branch. Van Neck "devoted alternate days of the week" to this branch (British Journal of Photography, 26.9.1890, p. 612). Victor Cremers (see that name) was director of the enlargement studio here (Hélios Illustré, 1.11.1890). No longer using this address in advertisements in March 1891 when he transferred ownership to Fl. Steppe & Cie. However, just a year later, Steppe had gone bankrupt and Van Neck agreed terms with the liquidator to take over his old premises and stock. The branch reopened in his name on 15.4.1892 and Van Neck once again divided his time between his Antwerp headquarters and this Brussels branch. “Catalogue on request” (Hélios illustré, 1.5.1892). The branch ran until Van Neck transferred his Brussels operations to Rue de la Madeleine, 7 by 1.2.1893: see entry for Van Neck, [L.] & Peters, [E.].
1890 * Blankenberghe, Rue de l'Eglise, 67
Sales outlet, offering the full range of Van Neck’s products. Opened on 1.6.1890.
1891 - 1898 Anvers, Place de Meir, 45
Branch. "Comptoir photographique". General agency for photographic plates and chemicals. Already advertising at this address in April 1891 (Hélios Illustré, 15.4.1891).
1893 Bruxelles, Rue de la Régence, 58
Branch. Also at Rue des Sables, 22 at an unspecified date.
1897 Bruxelles - Schaerbeek, Rue de Brabant, 146
The editorial offices of the photography periodical "Helios illustré", a vehicle for Van Neck's business, were situated at this address, which was also the residence of family members, including Van Neck's mother Marie Louise Prégaldino (° Asse, 25.8.1825). She had moved to Brussels - Schaerbeek on 28.2.1894, coming from Brussels, Boulevard de la Senne, 103, another address associated with "Hélios illustré".
1907 - 1908 Anvers, Place de Comédie, 1
Sales outlet. "Photo Comptoir General".


1884 - 1908 / Anvers, Klapdorp, 10 (& 10 bis<90-07>)
1889 - 1893 / Bruxelles, Montagne aux Herbes Potagères, 9
1890 * Blankenberghe, Rue de l'Eglise, 67
1891 - 1898 Anvers, Place de Meir, 45
1893 Bruxelles, Rue de la Régence, 58
1897 Bruxelles - Schaerbeek, Rue de Brabant, 146
1907 - 1908 Anvers, Place de Comédie, 1


Antwerp, 1885; Antwerp, 1888; Brussels, 1888; Antwerp, 1889; Paris, 1889 (silver medal); Antwerp, 1890; Antwerp, 1891; Brussels, 1891 (silver medal; cameras); Antwerp, 1892 (cameras of his own make: Excellens, Excellentis, Ultime, Royal Détectif); Antwerp, 1893 ABP (Adolphe Dupont’s new printing frame for stereos; new Helios and Beernaert plates); Geneva, 1893 (honorable mention); Antwerp, 1894 (silver medal); Ghent, 1895; Courtrai, 1897; Antwerp (CEPSA), 1903; Ghent ABP, 1903.

Genres / subject matter



SCHOUWENAAR, P. "Louis van Neck, vader van de vlug-terug spiegel?", Photohistorisch Tijdschrift, vol. 14, 1991, pp. 4-7.



Affiliated entity

Association belge de Photographie

Type of affiliation

Member of

Dates of affiliation

1886 - 1904

Description of relationship


Record source



Level of detail

Dates of creation/revision

SFJ revised 18.9.2017, 31.12.2017 & 17.2.2018, partly based on information supplied by Pool Andries; SFJ revised 17.7.2018, 27.2.2019 & 6.6.2019; revised 22.7.2019 based on information supplied by M. Demaeght; SFJ revised 7.5.2020, 24.8.2020, 17.9.2020, 23.12.2020, 6.4.2021, 31.5.2021, 7.3.2023 & 9.1.2024 based on information supplied by M. Demaeght; SFJ revised 23.1.2024 & 28.1.2024 based on information supplied by M. Demaeght; MD revised 21.4.2020, 8.9.2020, 17.2.2021, 5.5.2021, 18.1.2023, 9.3.2023, 5.10.2023, 10.11.2023, 4.1.2024, 20.2.2024 & 15.3.2024




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