LUXURYCULTURE.COM - Rothschild's Paradise


Perched on the promontory isthmus of Cap-Ferrat, the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild is a true jewel dedicated to art and culture.

The Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild is a cultural treasure of art, architecture and breathtaking horticulture. Constructed during France’s Belle Epoque, the rose-tinted Venetian style palazzo was commissioned by Baroness Béatrice Ephrussi, daughter of Baron Alphonse de Rothschild of the wealthy banking dynasty and wife of the wealthy Russian banker, Baron de Ephrussi. At the turn of the 20th century, the Baroness acquired seven hectares of land, and enlisted the Belgian architect Aaron Messiah to create the sumptuous Renaissance-inspired residence, which took seven years to complete, according to the Baroness’s liking. As a lover and patron of the arts, the Baroness imagined Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild as a Mediterranean home for her beloved collection of old masters, sculptures and rare porcelain, amassed during her travels and friendships forged with leading art dealers and experts of the time. The aristocrat art aficionado was known to order works to be brought to Beaulieu by train and made her selection on the station platform!

Nine gardens surround the property: a formal French garden structured around the great pond and the Musical Fountain; an exquisite rose garden boasting almost 100 varieties; the Spanish garden, inspired by the gardens at Aranjuez; the Florentine garden overlooking the Bay of Villefranche; the stone garden in which sit sculptures dating back to the Medieval and Renaissance periods; the elegant Japanese garden, and the exotic garden with its extraordinary range of agaves and giant cacti. During her time at the villa, the Baroness would survey her team of thirty gardeners from the window, all of which were decked out in berets with red pompoms.

It was her flair for the exuberant that informed her witty approach to taste. Herself a colorful personality, in addition to her unorthodox decorative style based on the color pink – a hue that she worshipped and dictated the scheme both inside and out – the wealthy aristocrat also had a penchant for exotic animals, such as monkeys, antelopes, gazelles and pink flamingos housed within her own private zoo.

The interior of the villa is a veritable shrine to art and culture that transcends both centuries and continents. A remarkable collection of 18th century furniture and paintings fill the Louis XV and Louis XVI rooms at entry level, while on the first floor the most exquisite pieces from the Baroness’s famed collection take pride of place. Jacob furniture, upholstered with tapestry from the 17th century Beauvais workshop, paintings by François Boucher and Frédéric Schall, and the Fragonard room filled with 18th century furniture, such as a Saulnier writing desk, are stunning examples of her cultivated taste. However, possibly the most impressive aspect of the collector’s treasures is her amassment of French porcelain originating from the country’s most revered manufacturers, such as Sèvres and Vincennes. Following the Renaissance style of the property, Béatrice also purchased pieces from France’s royal court, such as a monogrammed carpet of Louis XV from the royal chapel at Versailles and a whist table belonging to Marie Antoinette.

Since 1961, Friends of Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, under the patronage of the famed Academie des Beaux-Arts, Institut de France, have worked to preserve the Baroness’s beloved home. In homage to her dedication to the arts, each year the villa plays host to a selection of cultural events, which help to maintain this heritage landmark, such as this year’s celebration of the roaring twenties, while from August 18 to 30 Les Azuriales Opera will take up residence, presenting its 13th season within the prestigious setting. A unique site-specific production of Berlioz’s haunting Les Nuits D’Eté, conceived by the award-winning opera director Thaddeus Strassberger and set and costume designer Madeleine Boyd, takes opera fans through the gardens and terraces of the Villa Ephrussi in true 18th century promenade style, while Puccini’s tragic La Bohème makes its debut at Rothschild’s most remarkable cultural legacy.

To see this year’s program, visit :

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