Isidore Salles was a literary figure, a politician and a financier. He is the author of a poem celebrating the silver jubilee of Banque de Paris et des Pays-Bas.
Man of letters
Isidore Salles was attracted to the literary life, moving to Paris at the age of nineteen to try his hand at journalism. The French writers’ association ‘Société des Gens de Lettres’ – whose membership included some of the greatest French writers of the age, such as Victor Hugo and Théophile Gautier – quickly spotted his talent and he became the literary secretary of Alphonse de Lamartine. A loyal supporter of his native region, Gascony, Isidore Salles wrote some 435 poems in the Gascon dialect, signing his writings Isidore S. de Gosse in reference to the village where he was born, Sainte-Marie-de-Gosse, whose main square still bears his name.
Senior civil servant
In 1846, Salles became secretary to politician Achille Fould, a fellow Gascon and father of Ernest Fould, one of the founders of Banque de Paris et des Pays-Bas. Two years later he became head of the Press Office of the Minister of the Interior, Alexandre-Auguste Ledru-Rollin. In 1849 he began a long career as a high-ranking civil servant, which was interrupted in 1870 when France suffered military defeat at the hands of Prussia.
Capitalising on the network of contacts he had built up when working for Achille Fould, Isidore Salles became acquainted with the Gouin banking family. Through this connection he was in 1877 appointed statutory auditor to the Banque de Paris et des Pays-Bas, subsequently serving as external supervisor to the bank from 1889 until his death in 1900. In parallel he served as a Board member, then Vice-Chairman, of the Compagnie des chemins de fer de Bône-Guelma, a company set up by Ernest Gouin in 1875 to build and operate railways in Algeria and Tunisia, and was also external supervisor of the Banque internationale de Paris established by the Bischoffsheim family, who were co-founders of the Banque de Paris et des Pays-Bas.
This article was written in collaboration with the BNP Paribas Historical Association.