A ceiling from the beautiful Villa Kerylos taken on a visit to the French Riviera in 2011. Villa Kerylos in Beaulieu-sur-Mer is a Greek-style property built in the early 1900s by French archaeologist Theodore Reinach, and his wife Fanny Kann, a daughter of Maximilien Kann and Betty Ephrussi, of the Ephrussi family.
Madame Fanny Reinach was a cousin of Maurice Ephrussi, who was married to Béatrice de Rothschild. Inspired by the beauty of the Reinach’s Villa Kerylos and the area they built the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild at nearby Cap Ferrat.
A Greek word, “Kerylos” means Halcyon or kingfisher which in Greek mythology was considered a bird of good omen.
Reinach admired the architecture, interior decoration and art of the ancient world and decided to recreate the atmosphere of a luxurious Greek villa in a new building. He purchased land surrounded on three sides by the sea on the tip of the Baie des Fourmis at Beaulieu-sur-Mer which he felt offered a location similar to that of coastal Greek temples.
Reinach selected as architect Emmanuel Pontremoli, who drawing on this travels in Asia Minor designed a faithful reconstruction of the Greek noble houses built on the island of Delos in the 2nd century B.C. and laid out the building around an open peristyle courtyard.
Construction of the building began in 1902 and took 6 years to complete. The interior integrated influences from Rome, Pompeii and Egypt with the interior decoration overseen by Gustave Louis Jaulmes and Adrian Karbowsky. Stucco bas-reliefs were created by sculptor Paul Jean-Bapiste Gascq.
Reinach commissioned exact copies of ancient Grecian chairs, tabourets and klismos furniture kept in the National Archaeological Museum in Naples from the cabinetmaker Bettenfeld. Other were to original designs by Pontremoli.
The building incorporated all the latest modern early 20th century features including plumbing and underfloor heating.
Upon his death in 1928, Reinach bequeathed the property to the Institut de France, of which he had been a member. His children and grandchildren continued to live there until 1967, when the villa was classified as a Monument historique. It is now a museum open to the public.
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