The Rothschilds and the Arts

For generations, the Rothschilds have been leading patrons of the arts. Their dedication to creativity and innovation has been demonstrated by an unrivalled philanthropy and the unfolding of close friendships with leading artists throughout time.

As founder of the family dynasty prior to the French Revolution, Mayer Amschel Rothschild developed a remarkable expertise in collecting ancient coins. His oldest son gathered a magnificent collection of artwork in Frankfurt and participated in the early 19th century European Enlightenment.
The long list of artists who became part of the Rothschilds' inner circle is impressive. Chopin was a personal friend and teacher of Betty de Rothschild, whose portrait by French painter Ingres is famous worldwide. Mendelssohn gave classes to the talented daughters of Nathan Mayer Rothschild. Rossini was closely acquainted with James de Rothschild. His talent in obtaining exclusive bottles of Château Lafite from his friend and banker is still remembered! Other musicians associated with the Rothschild family include Liszt, Paganini, Poulenc and Milhaud, to name but a few. In addition, James de Rothschild was the inspiration for characters in novels by Balzac and Disraeli.

Edmond James de Rothschild, also known as the Benefactor in Israel, donated in the 1930's over 40,000 ancient engravings and drawings to the Louvre Museum from a collection he had started at the age of five. Visitors to the museum marvel at the Great Masters' drawings in the Edmond de Rothschild Collection, including Leonardo da Vinci, Dürer and Rembrandt. His son, Maurice, played a crucial role in the triumph of the Russian Ballet and Stravinsky in Paris before World War II. His only heir, Edmond, the eponymous founder of the current Edmond de Rothschild Group, showed a keen interest in 18th century French art. His gift of the remarkable French Room to the Museum of Israel in Jerusalem wins the admiration of countless curators. In Geneva, which has been the family's home for over 150 years, he bequeathed a legendary Etruscan vase to the Museum of Art and History. Edmond was also an astute collector of objects related to winemaking, some of which date back to the Renaissance, thus contributing to the family's longstanding tradition as winemakers.

Today, Benjamin and Ariane de Rothschild, contemporary patrons of the arts, continue to preserve this legacy. At the same time, they embrace modernity and encourage innovation, as is illustrated by their outstanding collection of contemporary art. They also preside over an international network of philanthropic foundations, with a particular emphasis on education, of which art is an essential part: in painting, in music, in theatre and in the preservation of craftsmanship. They have forged partnerships with prestigious institutions such as the Louvre, the Odeon Theatre and Ecole Boulle in Paris, Bartabas Academy in Versailles, Musée Voltaire and Musée d'Art et d'Histoire in Geneva, as well as the Slade School of Fine Art in London. For several years they have been faithful supporters of Spanish maestro Jordi Savall and famous singer Montserrat Figueras. Together they share a dedication to the development of cross-cultural dialogue.

In the words of Ariane de Rothschild, “Art and music have the remarkable virtue of inviting dialogue between cultures and bringing people together.”

Top of page
Commune di Milano Palazzo Reale The Ariane de Rothschild Foundation University of the Arts London Central Saint Martins Civita Links to sponsors