Hendrik Christian Andersen House Museum – Rome, Italy - Atlas Obscura
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Rome, Italy

Hendrik Christian Andersen House Museum

The former home of an Italian artist is now a shrine to his ambitious works. 

Breathe deep the the atmosphere of early 1900’s Rome by visiting the house-museum of this american neoclassical artist.

Born in Bergen, Norway, and emigrating to the United States just one year later, Hendrik C. Andersen’s life was a complex and interesting display of the times of change between the romantic era and the modern times.

After a long study tour through Europe along with his senior brother Andreas, Andersen settled in Rome in 1896 where he lived for over forty years. During his artistic career, Anderson went through different disciplines like painting, sculpture, urbanism, and architecture. He met many other artists with which he collaborated and he also held a very close, intensely emotional relationship with writer Henry James.  It was by the end of 1925 that Villa Helene, his elegant mansion, (now museum) was finally realized under his supervision and design. The exterior architecture features precious liberty-style frames, mouldings, and decorations partly inspired by John Ruskin’s philosophy and even more by neoclassical archetypes. The interior is also highly decorated and features two big laboratories/ateliers on the ground level as well as living spaces on the first and second floor.

When Hendrik died in 1940, he left the house to the Italian Government, but Villa Helene became a museum only in 1999. The ateliers are now filled with a complete overview of his work. His distinctive, highly monumental, neoclassical sculptures are on display along with displays of his urban plans, including a world center for communication, as well as his personal tools and some of his original wardrobe. The upper levels often host exhibits from other artists, but when they don’t, the beautiful original furniture is replaced in the large living room.

Visiting the Hendrik Christian Andersen Museum is not only an opportunity to explore the life of a wealthy artist, but guests are also given a glimpse of the artistic ferment of a city which leaned towards the future at the beginning of the 20th century.