Isaac Pereire, creator of modern banking

Isaac Pereire, creator of modern banking

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  • Isaac Pereire.

    BONNAT Léon (1833 - 1922)

  • Madame Pereire.

    CABANEL Alexandre (1823 - 1889)

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - G. Blot

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais

Publication date: March 2016

Historical context

One of the creators of modern banking
One of the most active businessman of the Second Empire, Isaac Péreire associated his whole life with his brother Jacob-Emile in numerous industrial and commercial enterprises. Their membership in the legislature is a typical reflection of a time when economic and political affairs were closely linked.

Image Analysis

The portrait of a businessman
Bonnat represents Péreire at the end of his career, in his office, seated, facing front, his left arm resting on the armrest of his chair, his right hand resting on a table where there is a clock decorated with an allegorical figure of Labor . The interior gives off an impression of order and luxury, but the interest is in the very figure of the subject, very strongly inspired by an emblematic archetype of the capitalist bourgeoisie of the 19th century, Mr. Bertin by Ingres. At the same time, Alexandre Cabanel, another famous contemporary painter from Bonnat, had commissioned the portrait of Madame Péreire, where the artist insisted on the details of the costume, gave his model a languid pose and precisely described the sumptuous interior of the hotel. particular residence of Péreire.


The two portraits are to be considered together: masculine austerity is opposed to feminine luxury, to work representation, to the determined and assertive character of the businessman that of his wife, more languid. Very traditional from an aesthetic point of view, the painting of Bonnat or Cabanel adapts perfectly to this representation of social conventions.

  • bank
  • bourgeoisie
  • portrait


Jean-Charles ASSELAIN Economic history of France from the 18th century to the present day , volume I "From the Ancien Régime to the First World War" Paris, Le Seuil, coll. "Points Histoire", 1984. Jean AUTIN The Pereire Brothers: The joy of entrepreneurship Paris, Perrin Academic Bookstore, 1984 Dominique BARJOT Economic history of France Paris, Nathan, 1995.Francis DEMIER "The great leap forward for the French economy" in The story n ° 211, June 1997.Régine PERNOUD History of the bourgeoisie in France , volume II "Modern times" Paris, Le Seuil, coll. "Points Histoire", 1981.

To cite this article

Barthélemy JOBERT and Pascal TORRÈS, "Isaac Pereire, creator of modern banking"

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