Everybody has heard of the Rothschild family, the international banking and finance dynasty who established operations across Europe and amassed one of the largest private fortunes in the world. Few know the pivotal role the French branch of the illustrious family played in Mucha’s career.
Baroness Adèle von Rothschild (1843-1922) was married to Salomon James de Rothschild. Mucha was a regular guest at their sumptuous hôtel particuier at 11 rue Berryer in the 8th arrondissement of Paris and would attend their popular artistic salons along with a hand-picked selection of the city’s cultural elite. The Baroness became both a patron and a friend to the younger artist whom she considered something of a protégé.
In 1904, the Baroness orchestrated Mucha's first visit to America and provided him with letters of introduction to some of New York's most well-connected society figures, including Mrs Helen Wissman, wife of wealthy property developer Francis de Ruyter Wissman, and Mrs Cathleen Vanderbilt, wife of millionaire equestrian Reginald Claypoole Vanderbilt. Mucha's arrival made front-page news in the American newspapers. The Baroness’ connections resulted in commissions for a number of society portraits and led to Mucha's meeting with President Theodore Roosevelt in 1905.