The Pereire brothers, of Portuguese Jewish heritage [Pereira], were French bankers born in Bordeaux. Enthusiastic Saint-Simonists, like so many others of this socio-mystical sect they took a very active and lucrative part in the commercial and industrial life of France. Their fortune dates from the last decade of Louis-Philippe's reign, when--in association with the Rothschilds, with whom they later had a bitter feud--they developed the railway system of north-eastern France. In 1835 Émile obtained the charter for the first common carrier railway in France and two years later successfully achieved the run between Paris and Saint-Germain. In 1852, Émile and Isaac founded the Crédit Mobilier, which virtually transformed the whole commercial life of the country. Isaac also established a prize fund of 100,000 francs to encourage the study of questions of social economy. The Pereires shared a mansion on the Faubourg Saint-Honoré, where they housed their enormous art collection, which ranged from Italian primitives to contemporary artists. The Pereire art collection, which was largely formed with the advice of the historian and critic Théophile Thoré, was dispersed following the Péreires' financial crash toward the end of the Second Empire.