The famous classic Greek-styled villa Kerylos was built by the architect * Pontremoli (Rome Prize winner) between 1902 and 1908 for the archaeologist and epigraphist Reinach* ( 1860-1928 ). He lived periodically there till his death, he bequeathed it to the Academy of the Registrations and Fine Letters (Institute of France). The usufruct of the heirs was alienated by them in 1967. The villa was classified Historic Building in 1966.

The villa logically takes place in a long lineage of reconstructions of antique, Greek and especially Roman villas which started in the Renaissance. The exercise which became more and more academic, knew a large success in the XIX-th century. Contrary to numerous attempts (notably in Paris and in Germany) Kerylos is an authentic and successful example because it was conceived to be a real house, with modern techniques and comfort. The construction is strictly in accordance with the program of 1900 particular hotel: place and distribution of the services, structure of the passages, hierarchy of the rooms. However, all the ornamental parts and the inside materials were determined by a constant reference to the classic models, in particular Delian.

The success is due to the complete agreement between the architect and the financier, the unlimited financial means, the culture common to the two creators. Pontremoli's skill lies in the constant work of adaptation from very numerous sources to the character of every room. The Rome Prize winner’s brilliant technique explains the excellence of the plan, with a succession of perfectlymastered atmospheres along a precise route (variation of the shapes of the rooms, their colour, their appropriate luminosity and their opening on the outside).

A part of the furniture (by Bettenfeld in Paris on Pontremoli's drawings) and certain details of the facade illustrate a search for formal renewal and for lack of ornamentation which seems dictated as well by the will to deny the tapestry-styled eclectism of the finishing XIX-th century as the desire to be inspired by Greek models. Besides, certain creations of Pontremoli, for lack of antique sources, were confirmed by very recent excavations, which proves the quality of the stylistic institutions of the architect. Polished frescoes were made by Karbowsky and Jaulmes and stuccos by Gasq.

Alabe, Renner, Steve, Vian des Rives : La villa Kerylos, Paris, Ed. de l'Amateur, 1997.

Michel STEVE


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