Musée d'Orsay: Louis Boitte Villa Medici

Louis Boitte
Villa Medici

Villa Medici, view of the villa through the trees of the park
Louis Boitte (1830-1906)
Villa Medici, view of the villa through the trees of the park
Pencil and watercolour on paper glued on paper
H. 31; W. 22,5 cm
© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski

Villa Médicis, vue de la villa à travers les arbres du parc [Villa Medici, view of the villa through the trees of the park]

While staying in Italy, Boitte spent the majority of his time at the Villa Medici, the location of the French Academy in Rome since 1803. This magnificent villa dates back to the mid 16th century, and was acquired in 1576 by Cardinal Ferdinando de Medici who converted it into a museum for his collection of artworks. Located in the city, yet surrounded by green spaces, the Villa Medici offered an agreeable environment for the students. Yet in their first days there, the French students often found it difficult being so far from their families, coping with a different climate and unfamiliar food. But gradually, the charm of Italy, the entertaining excursions out of Rome and the students' enthusiasm for the riches of the country, won them over.

Painted during the architect's first summer in Italy, this light-filled watercolour expresses the charm of life at the Villa Medici, bathed in sunshine and sheltered by the greenery.
Another of Boitte's watercolours in the Musée d'Orsay collections confirms his fondness for this place. This time, he amused himself by reconstructing the atmosphere of the villa at the time of Ferdinando de Medici, placing a group of figures in Renaissance costume in front of the sumptuous facade on to the garden. He was particularly attracted to this period, clearly demonstrated some fifteen years later in the major restorations he directed as architect of the Château de Fontainebleau.

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