I didn’t have much time to take pictures in the last days. I am now doing the prints for the exhibition on Villa Strohl Fern that will take place on May 10.

I like that part of the job : after so much time outside taking pictures, walking, searching for the best views, I enjoy spending a few days and late evenings at home, editing, printing, framing. I recall the feeling I had when I took the picture and try to show it on the print. Some people say it changed a lot with digital but I get almost the same pleasure when working with a printer instead of a darkroom and I can also print on beautiful heavy fine art papers which was not possible in the past with color pictures.

I will soon reach the end of the photo shoot at Villa Strohl Fern. Donatella Trombadori told me the other day about an evergreen oak in the northern part of the garden, near Rilke’s studio, which would be more than 300 years old. It is located close to the part where there used to be a lake and I can imagine Rilke and other artists sitting under it, looking at the water. It is beautiful and huge, with a trunk divided from the bottom in three of four parts leading to long branches, giving the tree a wonderful shape, reminding me a Chinese fan. I also like trees that get human or animal shapes and I was really pleased to discover one looking like a dog near the entrance of the garden.

As trees blossomed in the last weeks, giving the garden unusual colors, I will go back a couple times to take some pictures before I start to print the images for the exhibition which will take place on May 10 in the garden.

The daughter of Italian painter Francesco Trombadori, Donatella, guided me through the studio-home of her father at Villa Strohl Fern, which remains unchanged fifty years after the painter’s death. Francesco Trombadori moved in the villa in 1919, so Donatella and her brother Antonello were born and grew up there. I was very happy to find out that Trombadori’s painting “Il Viale Grande” dated 1920 that I was looking for, was kept here, displayed on an easel (Donatella told me that it was the one used by baron Strohl).

If one can try to stop time and retain the spirit of a place by keeping things unchanged,  I also like the fact that a garden is alive and can’t be prevented from growing and evolving. I will keep on looking in today’s garden for what remains of the spirit, the Genius Loci of Villa Strohl Fern, despite all the changes and things which disappeared since the early XXth century : lakes, fountains, grottos, the pineta which became a tennis court…

I took pictures of the view from the windows of the studio, like I have done before at Rainer Maria Rilke’s place, and managed to catch a reflection of the garden on a 1950 nude painting by Francesco Trombadori hanging on a wall…

I will soon go back to visit Mrs Trombadori who comes here every afternoon, and will listen to her, telling stories of the times when Villa Strohl Fern was an artists’ colony.

 

 

Yesterday evening was beautiful, warm, no wind. Being alone at night in this enormous garden in the center of Rome is a beautiful experience, even a bit scary. I thought about the words of Rilke about Villa Strohl Fern: “…lost deep in a large park, hidden from the city, from its 
noises and incidents”. I wished to photograph another side of the garden, the very mysterious head which lies in the ground near the house where Baron Strohl was living, the cement tree designed by an artist, at the early XXth century, in the middle of real ones.

 

 

 

 

 

I went this evening to attend a conference on “the object in art” given by students of  Rome’s French school at Villa Strohl Fern. Nice to see so many teenagers interested in art and talking about Vanitas paintings, Brigitte Bardot (as a ‘femme-objet’ of the 60s), Futurism or Edward Weston’s peppers.

The light in Rome is so marvelous at the end of the day that I escaped a couple minutes to take a few pictures of the sunset in the garden and the view on St Peter’s basilica. In a few days, I will come back here for a photo shoot to get new images for the exhibition on Villa Strohl Fern that will take place on May 10.