The Villa Médicis puts its family album online

The Villa Medici, headquarters of the French Academy in Rome, has put its “Villa Album” online. Produced in collaboration with the Musée d'Orsay, it presents the history of the institution in a new light by highlighting a more intimate and little-known aspect of the Roman villa, which welcomed a number of residents, guests, employees and visitors over the years. The platform, designed as a participatory tool, currently brings together a few videos and nearly 2,000 photographs taken over one hundred and fifty years.

“It was important to reveal another face, that of a place of life where, decade after decade, generations of artists have settled to think, to create” explains Sam Stourdzé, director of the French Academy in Rome. The project was led by Marie Robert, chief curator of the photography and cinema department of the Musée d'Orsay, after studying a collection of snapshots taken at the Villa Medici and preserved in the collections of the Parisian museum. “I wondered if there were other diaries in images, other visual testimonies that would allow us to tell a story different from the one that the writings or the archives generated » she says. In 2023, she resided at the Villa Medici for a year to collect these images, thus deepening her reflection on the private uses of photography.

Balthus with a child on his shoulders at the Villa Medici, circa 1962.

© Sam Stourdzé

The Villa Album gives pride of place to scenes taken from life, to personal moments which take the opposite view of an already well-known academic story. The platform, organized chronologically, also classifies images and videos by location and themes. Carnivals, exhibition views, conferences, maintenance work but also animals, vegetation and statues are presented as stakeholders in the history of the Villa. The Album also offers the possibility to all those who stayed at the Villa Medici to submit and share their own images.

Perched on Pincio Hill, Villa Medici overlooks the historic heart of Rome. Bordered by a seven-hectare Italian garden, the 16th-century building includes three historic rooms decorated by the Mannerist painter Jacopo Zucchi (1541-1590) as well as a temporary exhibition space on the ground floor. The institution also organizes cultural programming that promotes contemporary creation. Since 1803, the Villa Medici has hosted the French Academy in Rome, created at the instigation of Colbert in 1666 to receive French artists who had won the Prix de Rome. It still welcomes many residents today, for stays of a few months or a year.

The Villa Medici in Rome © Photo Ludovic Sanejouand for, 2013

The Villa Medici in Rome.

© Photo Ludovic Sanejouand for LeJournaldesArts.fr2013

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