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Henri James Nathaniel Charles de Rothschild (1872-1947)

Henri James Nathaniel Charles de Rothschild, the son of James Edouard and Laura Thérèse, was born on 26 July 1872. After the death of his father in 1881, Henri and his sister Jeanne spent a confined childhood with their mother who was keen that they should have a strong sense of public duty. Both children were familiar with the Rothschild hospital, dispensary and other amenities at Berck-sur-mer and Henri went on to study medicine.

To his mother's astonishment, Henri married Mathilde de Weisweiller, one of Jeanne's friends, on 22 May 1895. They became a glamorous feature of Parisian life, a world in which Mathilde was particularly at her ease. The couple had three children, James, Nadine and Philippe. In later years they lived quite separate lives, but their names remain linked in the Mathilde Henri de Rothschild Hospital on rue Marcadet founded by Henri.

Henri developed his interests in the arts, as essayist, playwright, and creator of the Pigalle theatre in Montmartre, always wreathed in the smoke from his Gaulois cigarette, as his son Philippe remembered. Henri was a keen yachtsman and motorist and formed a collection of Têtes de mort, which was bequeathed to the Musée des Arts Decoratif. His collection of autographs was presented to the Bibiothèque National.

He developed his medical talents in a couple of specific areas. He was moved to investigate the treatment of burns having witnessed some of the horrors of the injuries suffered by servicemen in the trenches during the first world war.

Infant nutrition became another interest. He experimented with the pateurisation of milk, and established a system of free distribution of milk for the needy.

Henri played a minor role in the fortunes of the Paris bank, serving as a director of the Nord Railway, the family's major rail interest. He spent most of the war years in Lisbon, where he began to work on his memoirs, published as Croisières autours de mes souvenirs. He died in Lausanne in 1947.