French philanthropist and art patron; born at Bordeaux July 23, 1825. For more than half a century a close friend of men prominent in art, politics, literature, and science, he has devoted his life and fortune to benefactions. He presented his native city with public fountains, and at Arcachon in the Gironde, where his summer residence is, he built a magnificent synagogue. He erected a statue of Joan of Arc (by Frémiet) at Nancy, which in return bestowed on him the freedom of the city; and he established there a serotherapeutic institute also as well as a municipal crèche. Owing to Osiris' efforts a synagogue was built in the Rue Buffault in Paris, which was dedicated Sept. 3, 1877, and in which services are held according to the Sephardic ritual; while he presented a second in 1903 to Bruyères in the Vosges. At Paris, furthermore, he restored many dilapidated tombs of famous men in the cemetery of Père-Lachaise, and presented the city with a statue of Alfred de Musset by Mercié, while Switzerland received from him a statue of William Tell, set up at Lausanne, with the inscription "A la Suisse, en reconnaissance de l'hospitalité donnée à l'armée française 1870." In 1903 he presented to the state the famous château of Malmaison, the residence of the empress Josephine. He has also purchased that part of the field of Waterloo where the last grenadiers of the Old Guard fell, and proposes (1904) to erect there a monument to their memory.
The benefactions of Osiris to art include a prize of 100,000 francs, founded at the Exposition Universelle in 1889, for the most noteworthy contribution to art, science, and industry. This prize was awarded to the Galerie des Machines. He offered a similar prize to the Exposition of 1900, which was divided four years later between Mme. Curie (60,000 francs), for her discovery of radium, and M. Branly (40,000 francs), for his contributions to wireless telegraphy. A third prize of 100,000 francs, to be awarded triennially by the Institut de France for the most important contribution to the progress of humanity, was awarded for the first time in 1903, the recipient being Dr. Roux, of the Pasteur Institute.
Osiris has had reproduced in bronze the colossal statue of "Moses" by Michelangelo; and he is the possessor of the original drawing for the well-known etching "Jews at the Wailing Place," by Alphonse Masson.
- La France Contemporaine, iii., Paris, 1904.