Villa Lysis was the refuge of an exile, the haven of a man escaping public shunning. Jacques d’Adelsward Fersen came to Capri in 1904, and the following year had this secluded home built in the North of the island: Villa La Gloriette, which later would become Villa Lysis, namesake of Socrate’s disciple.
Fersen, an eccentric poet and writer from Paris, was the subject of suspicion and ignominious accusations. He had been charged with illicit sexual acts and indecent behavior with minors, but also with officiating “black masses”. After spending six months in prison, paying a fine of fifty francs, and losing his civil rights for five years, the only thing he could do was leave the country. Capri was his final harbor.
We do not know for certain whether the imputations were well founded or not. Some believe the French artist was a victim of his accusers. It is now too late to find out for sure, and there is no time to start new inquiries and overturn his sentence.
What we do know is that Fersen’s final earthly abode is a fine example of Art Nouveau for all to see, and of this we have no doubt.