Sommaire / Summary
Villa Kérylos is a classical Greek-style villa built in the 20th century for Théodore Reinach. Astonishing. So let’s visit it together, with photographs by Blandine Thn.
The “Greek” Kerylos villa
This villa is based on ancient Greek domestic architecture, as if its architect had lived several centuries BC.
Indeed, everything is Greek and antique.
The plans themselves, supervised by Théodore Reinach, are based on the structure of Greek houses. The rooms are entitled Thyrôreion (porter’s lodge), Proauleion (forecourt), Amphityros (vestibule), Peristyle (colonnade surrounding the inner courtyard), etc.
The peristyle is a gallery surrounding a space, in this case a square courtyard with a pool at its center. Frescoes cover the walls, illustrating episodes from Greek mythology.
The library is a vast, lofty room with books that are barely visible. In fact, books from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries are kept in closed cupboards. Wooden doors and frescoes cover the walls. The floor is covered with a mosaic.
Note the antique-inspired three-legged tables.
The dining room
The octagonal dining room (triklinos in Greek) has also been reconstructed in the image of ancient Greek and Roman houses. Table beds surround the table. The beds have a wooden frame and interwoven leather straps, covered with cushions. So everyone ate lying down. This was the men’s dining room.
On the other hand, women and children had lunch and dinner in the adjoining living room for meals.
Erotès is the bedroom of Monsieur Théodore Reinach. The decoration features Eros, god of love. There’s also a mosaic of Dionysus on the floor, surrounded by dolphins. And Athena, goddess of war and wisdom, on the walls.
The bed is a model of the one found in Pompeii. The dominant red color recalls that of the palace at Knossos and the homes at Pompeii.
The Ornitès, Madame Reinach’s room, is dedicated to Hera, goddess of femininity and fertility. It features numerous representations of birds, notably swans and peacocks.
This is no coincidence, of course. The peacock is the animal emblem of Hera, goddess of femininity and fertility, and wife of Zeus. There’s a parallel here with Mme Reinach, wife of Théodore Reinach.
Once again, the room is structured and decorated as in classical Greece. But it has been modernized, albeit discreetly.
In fact, the room has an adjoining room. This is an open-air toilet with shower and a bathroom with bathtub, all fed by rainwater tank.
Furniture at Villa Kérylos
The furniture is entirely created for this villa. It is imagined on the basis of antique furniture, not just Greek. These are not copies of furniture, but antique creations. Armchairs, chairs, sideboards, tables, lighting fixtures – absolutely everything was designed for this house, by the greatest artists of the time.
The villa’s tableware
The tableware is no exception. Indeed, 150 pieces of ceramics are also unique, created by Emile Lenoble.
Decorating the Villa Kérylos
The decoration, too, was created in the same spirit, from the mosaic floor to the coffered ceiling, including painted walls and bay windows, embankments, columns, frescoes, mosaics and more.
The mosaics depict the myths of Theseus and the Minotaur in the labyrinth, marine elements (octopuses, dolphins, etc.), Triptolemus on his chariot bringing agriculture to mankind, etc.
The decoration is largely the work of Gustave-Louis Jaulmes and Adrien Karbowsky. The frescoes take up themes from Greek mythology: Apollo’s return from the land of the Hyperboreans, the death of Talos killed by Jason, the marriage of Pelops (who gave his name to the Peloponnesian peninsula) and Hippodamia, etc.
Who was Théodore Reinach, creator of the Villa Kérylos?
Théodore Reinach (1860-1928) was a member of parliament, professor of numismatics, specialist in ancient Greece, historian, archaeologist, art critic and more. He was so passionate about Greek civilization that he commissioned the architect Emmanuel Pontremoli to build an ancient villa.
On his death, he bequeathed the villa to the Institut de France. The building has since been managed by the Centre des monuments nationaux.
Impasse Gustave Eiffel
By bus: Bus 607 or 15, Kérylos stop.
By train: Beaulieu-sur-Mer station 10 minutes away.
Open from 10am to 6pm, May 2 to August 31
and 10am to 5pm, September 1 to April 30
Closed on January 1, May 1, November 1 and 11 and December 25.