Monday, 27 August 2012

A collector's paradise

When working on the interior of her dream villa (see my previous post) Baroness Béatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild’s guiding light was not only to showcase her collections of arts and other antique pieces but to utilize them in the structures and decor of the palace.

Moreover, she never stopped collecting and never made any compromises constantly bringing new items to be incorporated into the interior. The never-ending changes were nerve-racking to the architects and designers and Béatrice built herself, with reason I suppose, the reputation of a difficult client.

Béatrice’s father, banker Alphonse J. de Rothschild, had a massive art collection, especially paintings of the Dutch masters and pieces of Islamic art, some 2000 items of which were left to several French museums after his death. Very few of her father’s  art treasures found their way to the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild as Béatrice preferred lighter and paler kinds of items both in artworks and furniture.

Indeed, the interior of the Villa demonstrates Béatrice’s vision of light airiness. The spectacular views underlined through clever use of mirrors and the handcrafted antique pieces convey the desired atmosphere to perfection. Delicate pieces of furniture, elaborate tapestries and exquisite panelling incorporated into the structures are found everywhere in the palace.

I have a soft spot for both pretty hand-painted items and all kinds of hand-made textiles and I just loved the interior, most of all the hand-decorated antique panels and the tapestries and other antique textiles.

One of the most charming rooms in the Villa is Beatrice’s bedroom overlooking the Rade de Villefrance-sur-Mer, the bay of Villefrance to the west of the peninsula of Cap Ferrat. The hand-embroidered cover on the Venetian bed is a Chinese antique piece. Priceless, I would say, but silk was another commodity the Rothschilds were involved in importing.

The miniature seats were for Beatrice's poodles and pet mongoose.

The blue guest bedroom on the first floor is another space to die for. It also has antique panelling plus shuttered windows on three sides offering spectacular views to both bays and the French garden. It is a guestroom that would meet the requirements of the most exquisite taste.

A few rooms of the Villa are now devoted to Béatrice’s other vast collections, for example of Chinese items and rare china and porcelain. Some pieces of her collection of antique garments are on display in her dressing room. She liked old-fashioned clothing and was often seen wearing them. 

What an extraordinary lady, what an extraordinary villa! I am so happy Madame Ephrussi de Rothschild wanted her dream villa to be a museum available for the ordinary people to enjoy.

Have a look also on my posts about the Villa and the gardens.

The mirror on the door to the stairway fooled me. Note the lockers under the stairs.

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