Villa Santo Sospir is a completely unique museum where instead of classic paintings you will find “tattooed walls”.
This entire work is a masterpiece of the poet Jean Cocteau, who met Francine Weisweiller (owner of the villa) in 1949 during the filming of Les Enfants Terribles.
The following year, Francine invited Jean for a week’s holiday in her house, which Francine had bought in 1946 and which served as a holiday home in Saint Jean Cap Ferrat. Jean Cocteau saw the potential in the white walls and decided to improve them a little. He asked Francine if he could draw the head of Apollo in charcoal above the fireplace in the living room. But he did not stop there and gradually tattooed frescoes on all the walls of the house.
Jean Cocteau himself wrote: “It was not necessary to dress the walls, it was necessary to draw on their skin, so I worked the frescoes linearly with a few colours to highlight the tattoos. Santo Sospir is a tattooed villa”.
Most of the frescoes are inspired by Greek mythology, but also by allusions to the Côte d’Azur: the fishermen of Villefranche and their nets, the sea urchin, la fougasse.
Two years after the completion of the walls of the villa, Jean Cocteau started on the ceilings. When he found them too white, he painted them with pastel colours in very soft tones. He then created two mosaics in the entrance courtyard: two faces and a snake on the threshold, and the head of Orpheus on the left wall. Finally, three years later, Jean Cocteau offered Francine a tapestry of Judith and Holofernes for the dining room wall.
Frescoes, mosaics and tapestries still adorn the Santo Sospir today, more vivid than ever. They reflect not only the architecture of the house, but also the moods of its inhabitants. Even the furniture has remained the same, so today’s visitors are immersed in the poet’s timelessness. Villa Santo Sospir has been listed as a historic monument since 5 May 1995.