In Rome, just 5 minutes by motorino from the Spanish stairs, in a beautiful park of palm and lemon trees lives Mafalda Princess of Hesse with her family in a red coloured villa. The Villa Polisena was featured as ‘La Dolce Villa’ in the Architectural Digest Magazine of April 2007 (German Issue). What caught my eyes was the Chinese salon with an impressing Chinese painting style Wallpaper.
The Princess was interviewed about the story behind the house. Her grandfather Prince Philipp von Hesse came from Germany to Rome in the early 20ties to study architecture. On a party he met her grandmother, Mafalda of Savoy, the daughter of King Vittorio Emanuele III. of Savoy and Queen Elena. When they got married in 1925 they were given a piece of land - the land the villa is now located. It was the former vegetable garden of the Italian Royal Family. The construction of the villa was influenced by the taste of the Nobles at that time, the style of the 18th century. This was when Chinese Salons were en vogue. ‘Such a room used to express that you were well-educated and widely travelled’, tells the Princess. The Chinoiserie-wallpaper was repaired by three generations. Some mandarins become blond nevertheless.
Chinoiserie was the style of European art in the 18th century modelled on Chinese art. Chinese products such as silk, porcelain, paintings and artifacts came to Europe via the famous Silk Road in the 17th and 18th century.
Photo: Oliver Mark, AD