Second project: showcase for universal masterpieces
In the wake of the 2009 success of the special edition of Captain Alfred Dreyfus’ Cahiers, a new project has taken shape: the creation of a beautifully crafted book to pay homage to the illustrious collection of Baron Edmond Adolphe de Rothschild, great grandfather of the current chairman of the Edmond de Rothschild Group. This collection is composed of drawings, prints, manuscripts and rare books. It includes masterpieces by Rembrandt, Da Vinci, Durer and Raphael – works illustrating the marvelous and abundant richness of 18th century French prints and exceptionally rare 15th century incunables and niello pieces (metal artworks created by Florentine goldsmiths).
Baron Edmond de Rothschild was an astute collector who developed a keen interest in fine prints and engravings from the age of 14. Throughout his lifetime, he ceaselessly built up his art collection, which rivals in importance with the collections of major public institutions. Thanks to his perseverance and careful attention, he succeeded in gleaning the rarest pieces from the late 14th century to the late 18th century.
He allowed only excellent works of art into this veritable museum of engravings. Today this invaluable collection contributes to fulfilling the Louvre Museum’s national and universal mission. In 1934, Baron Edmond’s heirs decided to honor their parents’ memory by donating the collection to the Louvre, which led to the creation of a specialized department devoted to these works – the Prints and Drawings Department, which is comprised of the collection of drawings, the Baron Edmond de Rothschild Collection and the collection of engraved plates of the Louvre Museum.
This book recounts the story of the passion and meticulous care involved in creating this collection. It also details its history – from founding a new department at the Louvre to the tragic years of World War II in Europe.
The collection’s fate was the same as that of many of the Louvre’s major works during these dark years. Initially sent to Château Chambord, it traveled with the Mona Lisa and many other masterpieces to safety in Touraine, out of harm’s reach during the Nazi occupation and during bombings. A gem among donations to the French national museums since the 19th century, the Edmond de Rothschild Collection exemplifies the importance of cultural and universal heritage. It is a symbol of passion for all forms of artistic expression and today continues to represent a commitment
to innovation as much as to conservation.