What is it that makes Roche pastels so special? Read on... Roche pastels where first produced in 18th Century France, in a workshop that was then known as La Maison du Pastel. During the 19th century, this workshop dealt with all types of artists materials, including pastels. Around the year 1865, Henri Roche, a chemical engineer, chemist, biologist, and artist, started to produce his own pastels. A student of Pasteur, who also worked with Pastels, Roche was in regular contact with artists such as Degas, Cheret, and Whistler. These artists all submitted their desires for pastels- they should have a wide range of colors, varied, harmonious, luminous, and with an adherence to the support such that no fixative is needed. In 1878, Henri Roche bought and headed La Maison du Pastel. He decided to abandon selling other artists materials, so that he could dedicate himself entirely to pastel. In 1912, Dr. Henri Roche, Roches son, started to divide his time between his medical practice and his fathers work and research. He moved the workshop to where it still stands today: 20, rue Rambuteau. Dr. Roche nearly lost the shop completely during World War I, and the workshop was looted and occupied by the Germans during WWII. Dr. Roche managed to keep in contact with his artists during the war, and started pastel production again in 1946, with the help of his wife and three daughters. La Maison du Pastel was taken over by Mrs. Roche after Dr. Roche died in 1948. In 1972, the three daughters took over the business, led by the eldest daughter. When she died in 1999, at the age of 85, the remaining two daughters decided to transfer their skills to their great cousin Isabelle Roche, a young engineer. Fascinated by the history of La Maison du Pastel, Isabelle has since dedicated all of her energy to the conservation of this wonderful national and family heritage. Roche half sticks measure approximately 1-3/8 inches long by 7/16 inch thick. This set of twelve assorted color sticks is a terrific and economical way to try Roche pastels.