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Louise de Rothschild (1820-1894)

Louise de Rothschild was the last of the seven children of Nathan Rothschild (1777-1836) founder of the London banking house and Hannah (née Cohen) (1783-1850). Her sister Charlotte (1807-1859) was born in Manchester where Nathan was a textile merchant; her brothers and sister Lionel Nathan (1808-1876), Anthony Nathan (1810-1876) Nathaniel (1812-1870) Hannah (1815-1864) and Mayer (1818-1874) were born at New Court. Louise was born at Stamford Hill, the North London property Nathan purchased a lease on c.1819. Louise, like her sisters, received a good education, excelling in the arts and music

Marriage to her cousin Mayer Carl and seven daughters

She was married to her cousin Mayer Carl von Rothschild (1820-1886), of the Frankfurt house, at Gunnersbury Park by the Rev. Dr. Herschel, in 1842. Mayer Carl was the eldest of the sons of Carl Mayer von Rothschild (1788-1855) founder of Naples branch of the family business. He eventually took a controlling role in the management of the Frankfurt House after the death of his uncle Amschel in 1855. Although after her marriage, Louise spent her adult life in Frankfurt, where she established and endowed many charitable foundations, she preserved a sense of Englishness in her home on the Bockenheimer Landstrasse.

The couple lived at first on the Zeil, before acquiring a house on the Untermainkai and the Günthersburg mansion outside the city. Together they brought up seven daughters in Frankfurt: Adèle (1843-1922), who married Baron Salomon James de Rothschild (1835-1864) and later made her life in Paris; Emma Louise (1844-1935) who married Nathaniel, 1st Lord Rothschild and made her life in England; Clementine (1845-1865) who died tragically young, aged just 20; Laura Thérèse, who married Baron James de Rothschild; Hannah Louisa (1850-1892), who never married, devoting her life to charitable work in Frankfurt; Marguerite (Margarethe) Alexandrine (1855-1905) who married Agenor, Duc de Gramont; and Bertha Clara (1862-1903), who married Alexandre Berthier, Duc de Wagram. A pious woman, who imbued the same qualities in her daughters, Louise wrote considerably on religious themes. 

Philanthropy and collections

Frankfurt became witness to the generous philanthropy of Louise and her daughters. Louise established the Clementine von Rothschild Girl's Hospital in memory of her daughter Clementine. She provided a piece of land at 110 Bornheimer Landwehr, and capital of 800,000 gold marks. The foundation was able to provide free accommodation for girls aged between five and fifteen years, and received substantial donations from three of Clementine's sisters, Laura Thérèse, Adèle and Emma. Louise endowed the Carl von Rothschild Free Library and Carolinum Institute which had been founded by her daughter Hannah Louise. The Carolinum became a new type of foundation for the city in that it was a polyclinic with a dental care section. Hannah Louise died in 1892, and her mother successfully sought permission for the foundation to run in perpetuity. In 1906 the Carolinum was converted into a dedicated dental clinic with the full support of the Rothschilds. When the University of Frankfurt was formed in 1910, the Carolinum was one of the original components. In 1876, the German Emperor conferred upon Louise the Louisa Medal in honour of her munificence.

Mayer Carl and Louise amassed an incomparable collection of over 5,000 works of art, displayed in their house in the Untermainkai and the Günthersburg mansion. Their collection of gold and silver objects was one of the finest ever created. During Mayer Carl's lifetime the collection was on display to the general public every Sunday. The collection was described in two catalogues, (known as ‘Luthmer’ catalogues after their author) published in 1883 and 1885. Today these volumes, with their exquisite photographic plates, are an important source for scholars of gold and silver work, and provenance researchers. Copies of these catalogues are in the Archive collection.

Much of this magnificent collection was divided after Carls's death between five of his seven daughters, Adèle, Emma, Laura Thérèse, Hannah and Bertha Clara. Carl’s daughter Clementine predeceased him, and his daughter Margaretha was not included in the bequest.

Louise died in Frankfurt on 12 December 1894.

See also Mayer Carl von Rothschild »