Abstract : Wavelet analysis is used to construct a rank-based estimator of a copula density. The procedure, which can be easily implemented with ready-to-use wavelet packages, is based on an algorithm that handles boundary effects automatically. The resulting estimator provides a nonparametric benchmark for the selection of a parametric copula family. From a theoretical point of view, the estimation procedure is shown to be optimal in the minimax sense on a large functional class of regular copula densities. The approach is illustrated with actuarial and financial data.