La Venerie Française Contemporaine is a famous and important book of the twentieth century about hunting in France. It gives a comprehensive overview of the French Hunts, which were then at their peak. The text is filled with anecdotes and, often amusing, comments. The individuals portrayed are identified by handwritten notes that the author had left in his own copy (not present here).
Baron Karl Reille (1886 - 1975) was the great grandson of Honore Reille, Marshal of France, who had married the daughter of [Andre] Massena [the great Marshall under Napoleon, and perhaps the only possible rival to him]. Karl Reille had a happy childhood, divided between Paris and the Chateau de Baudry in Touraine, in the period preceding World War I. Reillee had shown at an early age a talent for art and design and his uncle Peter Verteville was his guide in developing these talents. They worked in an artistic affinity and often treated the same subject identically. In 1906 they produced jointly a series of portraits and caricatures of actors The Venerie Montpoupon.
A passion for hunting with hounds ultimately determined where the talent of Karl Reille should be directed and bore fruit in the publishing in 1914 of Venerie Francaise Contemporaine. This important work presents all the hunts existing in France at the time, with each hunt illustrated by the author, and also its hunting song musically notated.
Throughout his prolific career, Reille illustrated many books written by other authors about hunting. He also looked closely at the world of horses and horse racing which were his constant inspiration.
Mobilized in 1914, he was taken prisoner early in the war. He spent four years in captivity at Plassenburg Ingolstadt in Bavaria. After the war, in 1922, Karl Reille created in association with the Baron de Lauriston, Rally Gaiment, a hunt for deer. In April 1924, Karl Reille married Odette Goury of Roslan, and they had six children.
In 1939 he enlisted again at the outbreak of war, and was again taken prisoner by the Germans. Released in 1941, he returned to Baudry and became mayor of his town, Cerelles, at the end of the war. After the armistice, he was vice-president of the Society Venerie. Having previously painted in watercolour and gouache, Reille worked in oil from 1960 on. He was struck by disease in 1973, and died in 1975.