Photographic collections of Robert Philippe Gustave de Rothschild (1880-1946)
Nathaniel de Rothschild, the son of Elie de Rothschild (1917-2007) and Baronne Liliane de Rothschild (née Fould Springer) (1916-2003) recently gifted to the Archive an important collection of photographs amassed by his grandfather Robert (1880-1946).
Robert trained as a mining engineer, and played a major role in the management of the Paris House, de Rothschild Frères. During the First World War, he served as a Lieutenant, receiving two citations. His wife, Nelly (1886-1945), whom he married in 1907, nursed the wounded at Laversine, the family estate which was turned into a hospital during the hostilities. Robert shared the family's love of music and art, and experimented with early photography.
His collection of photographs is extraordinary. The images date from the early nineteenth century. Many were taken in the heat of battle of the First World War, and depict troops at rest and in action. Robert clearly played an important role, one that we are only just beginning to piece together from these images frozen in time. There are tantalising images of zeppelins and tanks on test missions, set-piece displays, parades and marches and shockingly stark images of destruction and dereliction. The collection includes many later happier images of the family and images show members of the family posing for formal portraits, together with images showing how Robert was experimenting with photographic techniques. The format of the collection is interesting too – there are black-and-white images, negatives, single shots, rolls of film, glass-plate slides and some moving images.