Welcome toThe Rothschild Archive'swebsite

Sources for business history: catalogues of bank files

Sources for art history: Catalogue of the pictures of Alfred de Rothschild 1901

Sources for yachting history: Plans for Nathaniel von Rothschild's yacht Veglia 1905

Sources for natural history: Walter 2nd Lord Rothschild and his zebra carriage: c.1910

Sources for global financial history: Map of lines of the Brazil Railway Company: c.1920

Sources for business history: index cards to bank files

Sources for social history: Rothschild Hospital Paris: 1920s

Sources for business history: detail of a Rothschild bond coupon

Sources for architectural history: Halton House: 1890s

Sources for the history of travel: Lionel de Rothschild's tours of Spain: 1909

Sources for local history: Tring Park: c.1900

Sources for Royal history: shooting party with Edward Prince of Wales: 1893

Sources for political history: Lionel de Rothschild: first Jewish MP: 1858

Sources for sporting history: St Amant winner of the Derby: 1904

Sources for local history: gardeners at Aston Clinton: 1899

Sources for Rothschild family history: Lionel de Rothschild's yacht Rhodora: 1927

Sources for London history: entrance to New Court: 1965

Sources for design history: plans for Lionel de Rothschild's Rolls-Royce: 1930

Sources for business history: Rothschild gold bars produced by the Royal Mint Refinery: 1930s

Sources for business history: letters of August Belmont Rothschild Agent in New York: 1860s

March 2017: The Rothschild Autochromes

Treasure of the Month: The collections of The Rothschild Archive London contain over two million pieces of paper, volumes, files, photographs, artefacts and art works. Each month the archivists will highlight a particular treasure from the collections.

The colours of another age

The Rothschild  Archive holds one of the largest private autochrome collections in the world. Read more about this fascinating glimpse into the Edwardian world.

The autochrome, the first widely available colour photographic process, was launched in Britain in September 1907. The invention of the French Lumière brothers, the process, which used specially produced autochrome glass plates coated with dyed starch grains, each of which acted as a tiny coloured filter, had first been demonstrated publicly in Paris.

Lionel de Rothschild (1882-1942) had a passion for photography, and loved to experiment; it was inevitable that he would try his hand with the autochrome, and so he did, and with considerable success. The 733 glass plates in his collection in The Rothschild Archive represent the largest single collection of autochrome plates by an individual British photographer to have survived.

Lionel’s earliest experiments appear to date from 1908 and by 1909 he was bringing back from his tour of Spain colour plates of Granada and other points en route. At home he began to take pictures in the gardens of Ascott in Buckinghamshire, the family home designed for Lionel’s father in the 1880s. In all he made some 250 colour plates of English houses and gardens, by far the largest group of them at Ascott. Other images were taken at Gunnersbury Park in west London, and the French estate of his cousin Edmond at Boulogne-sur-Seine, outside Paris.

Some of the most arresting images among Lionel’s work, almost a hundred in number, are portraits of family and friends, again mostly taken in the setting of family gardens. It is here, perhaps, as we stare back into the eyes of Edwardian high society, that we most clearly experience the shock and surprise of seeing in colour a world before the First World War which we have grown used to thinking of in monochrome.

The collection also includes Lionel's original photographic equipment including wood and brass cameras by Ross of London and Newman & Guardia in leather cases, lenses, an autochrome viewer in polished mahogany and red leather, glass plates, frames and storage boxes, together with a booklet 'How to Achieve Success in Photography'.

View a Gallery of selected Autochromes here »

For further information see The colours of another world, in the Rothschild Archive Annual Review 2005-2006. 

RAL 000/876, 000/1024 and 000/1933

A guest at Ascott 1910

A guest at Ascott 1910

Lion at London Zoo 1910

Lion at London Zoo 1910