Sommaire / Summary
The Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat is one of the most beautiful on the Côte d’Azur. Nice-Riviera presents it to you, illustrated with photos by Blandine Thn.
Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild
The Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, also known as the Villa Ile de France, was built for Baroness Béatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild, between1907 and 1912.
The building betrays the baroness’s taste for the Italian Renaissance. She had several beautiful gardens laid out, magnificently overlooking the bay of Villefranche.
Béatrice held receptions on the large patio. It consisted of a vast, open central space, surrounded by arcades over which ran a gallery with Hispano-Moorish vaults and balconies.
The patio welcomed guests and, to entertain them, musicians played on the balconies. The galleries were used to display medieval and Renaissance collections.
A large salon
This large salon is a museum in itself. The walls are covered with 18th-century painted woodwork, completed in the 20th century. The floor is covered with a carpet bearing the cipher of Louis XV, i.e. the king’s monogram and the royal crown. This carpet was originally intended for Versailles.
The furniture is all Louis XVI period. They are signed by the greatest cabinetmakers of the period, Nicolas Parmentier, René Dubois and François Hache.
But, the gilded bronzes are also remarkable.
The ceiling is adorned with a marouflaged canvas by Tiepolo (1696-1770) depicting the chariot of Love pulled by doves.
The door to the boudoir and the top of the door come from Château d’Aunay, dear to Mme de Pompadour.
An Aubusson tapestry covers the sofa and armchairs, illustrated with La Fontaine’s fables.
Le petit salon
The small salon is more intimate, no doubt intended to welcome a few guests after dinner.
Its two alcoves invite quiet conversation.
It opens onto a marble terrace overlooking the formal garden.
Paintings on the walls are by François Boucher and Jean-Frédéric Schall.
Louis XV armchairs, a pedestal table with a gilded pewter top painted by Compigné, depicting the Palais Royal in Paris.
Everything is particularly precious, from the Sèvres vases and the ceiling painting by Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini to the mantelpiece that once belonged to Marie-Antoinette.
Baroness’s private apartments
The baroness’s bedroom forms an oval projection, facing west. No doubt Beatrice could have admired the late summer sunsets from here.
Here again, the furnishings and decorations are particularly precious.
The 18th-century carpet, also oval, comes from the famous Aubusson factory.
But two small pieces of furniture intrigue. What are these two tiny, low armchairs?
Well, they were meant to house… Beatrice’s dog and mongoose.
On the chest of drawers to the right of the bed, signed Nicolas Petit, we discover the only portrait of Beatrice as a young woman.
The boudoir allowed Beatrice to isolate herself. She wrote on the secrétaire or Bonheur-du-jour, signed by one of the most famous 18th-century cabinetmakers: Jean-Henri Riesener.
In this boudoir, Beatrice could also entertain close friends.
The dresses are 18th-century.
Béatrice’s bathroom is original and, like everything else here, refined.
Its ceiling is in the shape of a rotunda, covered with a latticework of golden chestnut slats.
The walls are adorned with 18th-century painted woodwork. They conceal small rooms equipped with washbasin, dressing table and bidet.
The bathtub has unfortunately disappeared. It certainly stood in the center of the room and must have been particularly elegant.
We discover Beatrice’s toiletries, as she loved ocean liners. Her favorite was the Ile de France. Hence the villa’s nickname.
The other rooms of the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild
The Art Nouveau staircase leads upstairs to the Directoire bedroom, salons and Meissen porcelain.
The décor of the Directoire room, paintings set in wood panelling, features motifs known as grotesques that were very popular during the Directoire period, between 1795 and 1799.
Floral coils, suspended central motifs, exotic animals such as ibises and monkeys. This type of decoration was inspired by the ancient decorations discovered in 1748 in the Pompeii excavations. They exerted a major influence on the art of the second half of the 18th century.
The Chinese salon
The Chinese salon is also typical of the taste for the exotic in past centuries.
A magnificent lacquered door from the imperial palace in Peking stands out.
And in the showcase, don’t overlook the collection of rose quartz and, above all, the very rare white jade.
The tapestry salon
You can guess where the name of this room comes from.
Beautiful tapestries from the Manufacture royale des Gobelins, based on cartoons by François Boucher.
They feature pastoral scenes as well as gallant ones, such as this young couple beneath a bust of Pan, the goat-legged god of nature.
The furniture is signed by France’s greatest cabinetmakers: René Dubois and Pierre Garnier.
Le petit salon is a museum of porcelain. And more specifically, Meissen porcelain.
Founded in 1710, this royal porcelain factory produced the first fine porcelains, thanks to the kaolin that had just been discovered in Saxony.
The monkey salon
Here’s a show entirely dedicated to monkeys. Not so surprising. Why should it be?
Firstly, because monkeys were fashionable in the 18th century, once again for the exotic.
In fact, Beatrice owned two monkeys.
Secondly, because the Baroness loved the 18th century, appreciating its impertinence and delicately licentious side.
The décor is entirely devoted to monkeys, from the woodwork to the porcelain collections.
And it’s here, in these miniatures, that you’ll find the Meissen porcelain monkey orchestra. This orchestra, made up of musicians and a conductor, caused a scandal.
The conductor in pink pants and white fangs was recognized as the German minister von Brühl (1700-1763).
Who was Béatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild
Béatrice de Rothschild was born in 1864, to a father who was a regent of the Banque de France and an art lover. Her marriage to Maurice Ephrussi, a Parisian banker, turned out badly. The couple separated in 1904.
Inheriting her deceased father’s fortune, she bought a plot of land on which to build her house.
Practical information about the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild
Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild
1 Avenue Ephrussi de Rothschild
By bus: line 15, “Passable – Rothschild” stop or line 607, “Pont Saint Jean” stop then about a 15-minute walk to the Villa.
February 1 to October 31: 10am to 6pm. In July and August until 7pm.
November 6 to January 30: weekdays from 2pm to 6pm. Weekends and school vacations from 10am to 6pm.