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The 19th Century – Beginning with the Cernushi Family

The 19th Century – Beginning with the Cernushi Family

The 19th century, beginning with the Cernuschi family

I – The Cernuschi family, from 1860

The Cernuschis were three brothers from Milan. The eldest, Enrico (Henri), nicknamed Saint Just of the Italian revolution, was exiled in France in 1850. After acquiring French citizenship, he made his fortune in banking and finance.

Photo d’époque du compte Cernuschi
Photo of the Cernuschi compte period

After the troubled times of the Commune, he went on extended trips to Asia, from where he brought back an impressive collection of art objects which he bequeathed to the City of Paris and which became the founding collection of the famous Cernuschi Museum, located next to Parc Monceau (http://www.cernuschi.paris.fr/fr/le-musee/qui-sommes-nous).

Buste du Compte Cernuschi
Buste of Compte Cernuschi

The second brother, Attilio, was both engineer and banker:

He settled in London, spending his holidays in Menton in the 1860s. He fell in love with the region and acquired the Villa du Vallon, as it was then called, on the hill of the Serres de la Madone and several adjoining plots, covering over 25 acres in all. He built the long private road with 22 hairpin bends, from the Borrigo (the name of the little stream) to the top of the hill. The road is quite steep: the lower part of the estate is at an altitude of 15 m above sea level, rising rapidly to reach 105 m at the top.

Société astronomique de France

Texte de la société d’astronomiquement, lier a histoire Cernuschi
Text of the society of astronomically, linking a history Cernuschi

Upon Attilio’s death in 1894, his younger brother, Constantin, took over the property. He was a well-known engineer who built several railway lines around the world (Italy, Spain and even in the Andes). He transformed the estate – which consisted only of the Villa du Vallon and the stud farm – into what it is today. Count Constantin Cernuschi was passionate about astronomy and was a founding member of the Société Astronomique de France in 1897. He built the observatory tower and a footbridge so that he could access it directly from his home !