The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Ferdinand James Rothschild, 1839-1898

Nationality: British
Date of Birth: 1839
Place of Birth: Paris
Date of Death: 1898
Place of Death: Waddesdon Manor


Baron Ferdinand James (Anselm de?) Rothschild, the son of Baron Anselm Salomon de Rothschild (1803-74), was a virtuoso and collector. He married his cousin (Charlotte Louisa Adela?) Evelina Rothschild.


Ferdinand Rothschild belonged to a European family of collectors and patrons. He was educated in Vienna and was given British nationality in 1860. His country residence, Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire, was designed by Hippolyte-Alexandre-Gabriel-Walter Destailleur in the French Renaissance style and built between 1873 and 1881. Original and copies of original eighteenth century boiseries, plasterwork, mirrors and chimney pieces were acquired to provide the appropriate context for his collection. He had a significant collection of French, and particularly eighteenth century, works of art. The Rothschilds had a reputation for quality, taste and connoisseurship. Therefore, JW expected quality when in 1892 he used the same packers as the Rothschilds for the shipping of his prized Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket (YMSM 170) to Samuel Untermeyer in New York (#10717, #11614).

Ferdinand Rothschild was a member of the Burlington Fine Arts Club in 1867 when JW was expelled following a quarrel with his brother-in-law Francis Seymour Haden. He was appointed MP for Aylesbury in 1885, succeeding (his uncle?) Baron Nathaniel Mayer Rothschild. He became a trustee of the British Museum in 1896 and bequeathed his collection to the Museum, with the exception of his illuminated manuscripts which he gave to the British Library.


Young, Andrew McLaren, Margaret F. MacDonald, Robin Spencer and Hamish Miles, The Paintings of James McNeill Whistler, New Haven and London, 1980; McLeod, Bet, 'Rothschild', The Grove Dictionary of Art Online, ed. L. Macy, (accessed 11 April 2003).