Edmond de Rothschild (1845-1934) began to collect engravings at the early age of nine. He studied them with such passion, that even when he was nearly blind he could describe in detail any one of them. During his lifetime he collected 40,000 engravings and 6,000 drawings. Edmond took the advice of noted specialists. Above all he collected German art.
He acquired all Durer's engravings, and included in his collection works by lesser known masters such as Schongauer and Israel van Meckenem. In collecting engravings, Edmond not only broke with the family tradition of collecting paintings, but he perceived their artistic importance before they were considered valuable. He was no doubt instrumental in making them the sought-after collectables they became at the turn of the century. At his death at the age of 89 in 1936, Edmond bequeathed his collection to the Louvre, having come to be recognised as a specialist with his election to the Académie des Beaux Arts.
Edmond's niece, (Charlotte) Beatrice (1864-1934), loved pastels and drawings from the 18th century, and put together a rare collection of preparatory studies and fantastic subjects in pen and ink and pencil by Fragonard. Many of these were on scraps of paper which she arranged in albums.