Roses at Mountain Jewel – Madame Isaac Pereire


The first year we were on the land, we held back from buying many plants. This, however, didn’t stop me from buying 13 heritage roses!

My grandmother had a rose garden at her place in Pasadena, California and I remember visiting it as a girl. As I grew older, I was intensely attracted to the divine smell of the many varieties of rose and I knew I wanted some on the homestead!

Luckily there is a longstanding tradition of selecting roses that are not only beautiful, but also are very delightfully fragrant! Though modern hybrid roses usually aren’t selected for scent, many of the heirloom roses are. It was these on which I focused my search.

Life is all about the connections & I find the history of plants very fascinating. Today I am starting a series as I research the history of each of the roses on our homestead (6 remain from the original 13 – I think in the first year I didn’t baby some of them enough and they didn’t make it through a harsh winter!)

Madame Isaac Pereire

Our search begins where my journey with this rose began, at Antique Rose Emporium. This is where I bought my plants. Of this rose they write,

Luscious, sumptuous, almost blousy beauty, runs one description of this well-known old rose. Named after the wife of a French banker, ‘Madame Isaac Pereire’ has fat, cabbagey flowers of rich rose madder, with perhaps the strongest deep rose perfume extant. To see and smell a full blown bush on an early April morning is a heady experience. A smaller but even more lovely fall display and scattered roses throughout the summer are extra rewards that come as the plant gets established. ‘Mme. Isaac Pereire’ makes a handsome shrub specimen for pegging. 1881.

David Austin has this to say,

Huge, fuchsia, cup-shaped flowers; the petals eventually turning back prettily at the edges. Powerful and delicious fragrance. A large, vigorous shrub with open growth. Garcon, 1841.

Interesting to see that these two sources do not agree on the introduction date. Let’s see if we can learn more about this French banker and his wife!

Well that didn’t take long. Turns out these two were famous. According to Wikipedia,

The Pereire brothers were prominent 19th-century financiers in Paris, France, who were rivals of the Rothschilds. Like the Rothschilds, they were Jews, but the Pereire brothers were Sephardi Jews of Portuguese origin.


Émile (3 December 1800 – 5 January 1875) and his brother Isaac (25 November 1806 – 12 July 1880) founded a business conglomerate that included creating the Crédit Mobilier bank. It became a powerful and dynamic funding agency for major projects in France, Europe and the world at large. It specialized in mining developments; it funded other banks including the Imperial Ottoman Bank or the Austrian Mortgage Bank; it funded railway construction[ and insurance companies, as well as building contractors. Their bank had large investments in a transatlantic steamship lines, urban gas lighting, a newspaper and the Paris public transit system.

In 1866/7, the bank underwent a severe crisis, and the Pereires were forced to resign at the demand of the Banque de France; the bank never recovered.

Their grandfather, Jacob Rodrigues Pereira, was an “academic and the first teacher of deaf-mutes in France.” (source)

Very interesting! I assume that they did not win their rival with the Rothschilds otherwise we would know their names instead of the Rothschilds!

Looking further I find this,

‘Madame Isaac Pereire’ is a dark pink Bourbon rose bred in France in 1881 by Armand Garcon. 

The rose is named after Fanny Pereire, the wife of a prominent French banker, who used the inheritance after his death to honor his memory and simultaneously have this rose named after her. 

In a very Continental twist, Pink Ladies and Crimson Gents reveals that Isaac Pereire was Fanny’s uncle as well as her husband, a bit of salacious gossip that I somehow can’t resist keeping in memory.

Kansas Garden Musings

Well then! Am I still glad that I did the research? Hah! That seems a bit inbred to me. Marrying an uncle 19 years older than you at the tender age of 16! For even more information regarding their union and the family history, see this informative post.

Perhaps I’ll start calling this rose by its direct name, Fanny! She certainly picked a great rose to name herself after.

As many online attest, this is one fragrant rose. Some even call it the most fragrant rose in the world! Just was I was looking for…

Other interesting snippets:

There is no availability problem with this rose  – almost all suppliers stock it! Produced in 1880 by Armond Garçon, a Normandy rose breeder, it was originally named ‘La Bien-heureux de la Salle’, but having found its way to Paris in 1881 it was renamed ‘Madame Isaac Pereire’ in honour of Fanny Pereire, wife of a prominent banker. It would be interesting to discover the exact circumstances under which this name change took place.

Peter Scott in The Royal National Rose Society Historic Rose Journal No. 32 Autumn 2006

And furthermore from the same source,

Isaac’s first wife died in 1837 and in 1840, at the age of 34, Isaac became enamoured of Fanny Pereire, his brother Emile’s eldest daughter, who was then just 16 years old. Isaac and Fanny wished to marry and in due course Emile reluctantly agreed. Because of the close blood relationship, the marriage also required special consent from the State. After this was obtained however, Emile had a change of heart. Once again he eventually gave in to pleas from Isaac and Fanny but their affair created a rift between Emile and Isaac that was slow to heal. This was made all the more difficult by proximity, since not only did they occupy adjoining offices at the bank but they also shared the same large residence in Paris. Nevertheless, both saw the wisdom of ensuring that the rift was not allowed to jeopardise the banking business.

Fanny’s mother Rachel Rodriguez, Emile’s distant cousin, was of Iberian extraction, which may account for the dark good looks possessed by Fanny.  She bore Isaac three children. Evidence suggests she was a very effective manager of Isaac’s social affairs especially during the ill health he suffered in the last years of his life. With Emile’s death in 1875 and Isaac’s in 1880 – the year before the naming of this rose – Fanny assumed with no little skill the role of dowager of the two families. She became something of a matriarch and lived on to the age of 85, dying in 1910.

Now my curiosity is satisfied knowing more of the story behind this gorgeous rose.

Stay tuned as I look further into the roses of Mountain Jewel…

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