Thursday, November 29, 2012

That Béatrice Rothchilld? She knew how to live...

Of  this spirited woman, the poet Andre de Fouquières wrote: "I remember well the face of Mrs. Maurice Ephrussi, née de Rothschild, a face with immaculately delicate features, framed by silver hair. She was always dressed elegantly in blue, with a ribbon of the same color, and a small fox terrier lying at her feet... Born into a limitless horizon of wealth, yet not conspicuous, except when she held generous parties and, I remember, in particular, one summer night, when we had the privilege to see, in her gardens, which drew from her mansion across to the sea, and bathed in moonlight, Anna Pavlova dancing to the Chopin nocturnes.

If ever you find yourself in the South of France I highly recommend you drive your very best car, very fast, not slowly, to the Euphressi de Rothschilds Villa and Gardens. 

{full disclosure, that is not my car, but isn't it a beauty? Only fitting I would find it here.}

This exquisite rose colored mansion is perched above the Mediterranean Sea in St. Jean Cap Ferrat. It was built during the Belle Époque, and is a great example of the optimism of that period.

Over the years, I've visited a few historic homes, but none as remarkable as this one. Beyond the tangibles, you just get the vibe that the person who created this home had a great sense of style and true joie de vive.

To begin with, the way the house is positioned, each room offers dramatic views, many of the sea.

Stepping inside the house is like stepping into another world, the lovely, eccentric world of Béatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild.

The architecture and furnishing,

are reflective of her fantastic, whimsical flair and her passion for the extraordinary.

She was famous for throwing lavish parties for the four legged set and had upholstered chairs and beds for all of her dogs. 

It is speculated that she used to arrive at the parties in this..

The interiors certainly show the wear and tear of a well used vehicle. 

I love this green silk damask, even torn. 
Don't you wish these walls could talk?

It's hard to come up with enough adjectives that adequately describe the beauty of the furnishings she procured for this villa, so let's just look at the pictures, shall we??

I love her penchant for ornate desks and chests.

I'd be content with just a little chip of one of these beautiful painted pieces.

While grand, the house feels like it was lived in. From the descriptions of parties I am sure guest made use of this cozy enclave silk couch {and the one on the opposite side of the room} on many an afternoon that melted into evening.

There were a number of pieces that she bought from Versailles after the revolution, I think this is one of them. You may be able to see that the amazing tapestry is a little worn on the front edge, signs that she didn't consider her pieces to be too precious to be sit upon.

Fantastic art, carvings and painted panels generously adorned the walls.

I loved every brushstroke.

Her round bedroom was a little dark, covered with beautiful painted panels in shades of green and yellow. The intimate shape made it difficult to take many photos, but here is her bathroom, behind a hidden door with a beautiful painted panel and a marble-topped demi lune table, no less.

Here is one of her gowns, and yes, the silk is thick and sumptuous and crisp and that embroidery is done to perfection.

Here is the molding in another bedroom.

Mixed in with all of the finery was a whimsical spirit. Isn't this birdhouse chandelier just delightful? (no pun intended, I just noticed that!)

She had an incredible collection of porcelain, including many sets and pieces from Sevres and Vincennes royal porcelain.

She loved animals, especially dogs and monkeys. She had a pet monkey that she loved to carry around.

If the rooms didn't have sea views, they had views of the gardens.

This lovely formal garden with a dramatic fountain is just the beginning.

Most of the gardens offered views of the sea.

She had a total of nine gardens, each with a different influence : Spanish, Florentine, Japanese, Stone, Exotic, Rose Provencal, Sévres and French.

Sorry to post yet another picture of Moi, but this is the best shot I have of her marvelous little grotto, one of my favorite outdoor features, it was so cool and refreshing.

and it lead to a lovely pool.

These faux bois steps were in the Japanese garden, this effect is actually quite common down here, I see it often. I guess that wood just doesn't hold up well with the salty air.

Apparently, her husband Maurice Ephrussi, a Russian born banker, was a bit of a scoundrel.

I was intrigued to hear, however, that he was a character in one of my favorite painting, Renoir's Luncheon of the Boating Party.

However, according to Wikipedia, it is his brother, Charles who is wearing the top hat and speaking to the man in brown in the background of the famous painting, not Maurice.

Here's a sad update on this painting, The luncheon of the Boating Party. I'm so happy I had a chance to see it in it's original glory at the Corcoran in Washington, D.C. years ago.

Sorry, I don't want to end on a downer note...hmmm what shall we do? I know, let's take one last glimpse at the Villa..

ahhhh, there we go, all better now?

Here's another happy thought: they have a restaurant that is supposed to be quite good, and, {why stop there}, one can rent out the Villa and Gardens for weddings and events! Could you imagine??

She left the property to l'Académie des Beaux-Arts de l'Institut de France.


miss b said...

I have read about this stunning property and I really should now add it to my must-visit list now that I have seen your photos. The gardens are exquisite as is the car!
PS The Boating Party has always been one of my favourites too. I'm sure it was one of the Renoir's I saw in the Muusée d'Orsay a few years ago.

Teresa at Splendid Sass said...

You made my day, Emily! I love everything here (who wouldn't) and the painting is stunning.
Happy Thursday.

Eddie Ross said...

I was just transported! Gorgeous! LOVE LOVE LOVE that car!

E + J

Karen Albert said...

Emily my jaw is still dropped in awe. Thank you so so much for sharing this wondrous palace! I too love the exquisite details on all of the chests.

2012 Artists Series and Giveaway from The House of Edward!

Meg said...

Fell in love with the place in 1997 when I first toured it! So much so that I had a mural of it painted in my foyer.

Tabitha said...

You know, I can't bear that place! It's so gaudy and ostentatious, I think it's horrendous but the gardens and the view ah - they do indeed revive me.

Linda @ DesignInMyView said...

"just imagine"? Uh. Yeah!

Having the run of these gardens hosting friends and family.... dreaming, is how we make what we can afford special.