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Jacqueline, Mrs Gregor Piatigorsky, (née de Rothschild) (1911-2012)

Jacqueline Rebecca Louise de Rothschild was born in Paris on 6 November 1911, third child of Edouard de Rothschild (1868-1949) and Germaine Alice née Halphen (1884-1975). She became an America chess and tennis champion, author, sculptor, arts patron, philanthropist, and chess organizer and patron.

She was born in Paris and was raised at the Château de Ferrières with her brother Guy and sister Bethsabée.  Aged 19 she married publisher Robert Calmann-Levy (1899-1982), but this ended after five years in 1935, and two years later she married the renowned cellist Gregor Piatigorsky (1903-1976). Their daughter Jephta was born in France in 1937. Together they fled to America in the wake of the Nazi invasion, eventually settling in Los Angeles in 1949.  Their son Joram was born in 1940.

Jacqueline’s passion for chess led to her accomplishments as a chessplayer including a bronze medal in the first Women's Olympiad in 1957, in which she represented the United States.  She played in several U.S. Women's Championships, finishing a half-point out of first in 1965.  In 1955, she became the organizer of what became known as the Steiner Club.  She is perhaps best remembered for the Piatigorsky Cup tournaments held in Los Angeles in 1963 and 1966.  Participants included world champions Petrosian, Spassky, and Fischer.  She oversaw all the details of these events, even personally designing the Cup.  These two tournaments did much to enhance the stature of chess in the US and generated still-popular tournament books.

Her philanthropic efforts included chess programs for underprivileged and disabled students in Los Angeles schools, and paying expenses to national competitions for local teams, and sponsoring the U.S. Junior Invitational for several years in the late 1960s and early 70s. Retiring as a player in the late 70s, Jacqueline increasingly focused on tennis (winning several national championships) and sculpting; along with her rewarding ruminations on aging, Growing as We Age.  In 1988 she also published an autobiography, Jump in the Waves: A Memoir, a copy of which is in the Reading Room. Jacqueline died on 15 July 2012.

The Rothschild Archive London does not hold any private papers of the Piatigorskys. The Archive holds a few published works by members of the family.  

Jacqueline Piatigorsky, photographs, n.d.

000/733, 2 items

Two photographs of Jacqueline Piatigorsky in a championship chess match with Lina Grumette.

Jacqueline Piatigorsky, exhibition catalogues (sculpture), 1976; 1988; 1996; 2004

000/600, 000/1366, 000/2197, 6 items

Catalogues of exhibitions of Jacqueline Piatigorsky's sculpture: The Edgardo Acosta Gallery, Beverly Hills (1976); The Heritage Gallery, Los Angeles (1988); The Heritage Gallery (1996).

Jacqueline Piatigorsky, exhibition catalogues (chess), 2014

000/2197, 1 item

Jacqueline Piatigorsky: Patron, Player, Pioneer, exhibition catalogue, World Chess Hall of Fame, 2014.

Jacqueline Piatigorsky, publications, 1988

000/2197, 1 volume

Jump in the Waves, A memoir by Jacqueline Piatigorsky, (Joan Kahn, 1988).

Jaqueline Piatigorsky, publications, 2004

000/2197, 1 volume

Jacqueline Piatigorsky,- Scupltures, Jacqueline Piatigorsky, privately published, 2004.

Jacqueline Piatigorsky, memorial service, 2012

000/2197, 1 item

Jacqueline Piatigorsky: Memorial service, 2012.

Gregor Piatogorsky, publications, 1965

000/2197, 1 volume

Celist, Gregor Piatigorsky, (Doubleday & Co., 1965). This work is the autobiography of Gregor Piatigorsky (1906-1976), the Ukrainian-born American cellist. As a child, he was taught violin and piano by his father. After seeing and hearing the cello, he was determined to become a cellist and was given his first cello when he was seven. He won a scholarship to the Moscow Conservatory. Aged 13 when the Russian Revolution took place, shortly afterwards he started playing in the Lenin Quartet. At 15, he was hired as the principal cellist for the Bolshoi Theater. The Soviet authorities would not allow him to travel abroad to further his studies, so he smuggled himself and his cello into Poland on a cattle train with a group of artists. He studied briefly in Berlin and Leipzig. In 1929, he first visited the United States. In Ann Arbor, Michigan, in January 1937 he married Jacqueline de Rothschild.

Joram Piatigorsky, publications, 2007

000/2197, 1 volume

Gene Sharing and Evolution, Joram Piatigorsky, (Harvard University Press, 2007). Joram Piatigorsky is an American molecular biologist and eye researcher at the National Institutes of Health. He is the son of Gregor Piatigorsky and Jacqueline de Rothschild.

Joram Piatigorsky, exhibition catalogues (Inuit art), 2018

000/2550, 1 folder

Published material relating to the Exhibition of the Joram Piatigorsky Collection of Inuit Art, presented by the World Bank Art Programme 7 May-7 June 2018, The World Bank Group, 1818 H Street, MC Building, Washington DC: exhibition notes and postcards. Joram Piatigorsky is a major collector of Inuit Art.