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by Archaeology Newsroom

The mansions of Sophie de Plaisance in Athens. New information from Copenhagen

Marie-Anne-Sophie Marbois was born in Philadelphia, USA, on April 2, 1785 and died in Athens on May 14, 1854. In 1802 she married the French officer Anne-Charles Lebrun, in Paris. Four years later her father-in-law was granted with the duchy of Piacenza in N. Italy. Thus, both Sophie and Charles acquired the title “de Plaisance” (1809).

Much of the information about the duchess de Plaisance derives from letters and literary texts of the period. She was eccentric and very wealthy. The duchess had a daughter, whom she adored and when the latter died, Sophie de Plaisance had her embalmed and kept the body in one of her numerous mansions in Athens, where she had settled since 1830. The literary sources mention Christian Hansen as the architect responsible for the edifices Sophie de Plaisance built, while from 1920 on, the Greek St. Kleanthis is considered to be the architect, who designed the houses and palaces of the duchess (see, bibliography). However, “Rododaphni” and “llissia”, both in Gothic style, “Maisonette”, in Italian style, “Plaisance” and the Tower were all built during the years that Hansen was architect to the duchess. Hansen also built another series of edifices in Greece (Baths at Kythnos, Anglican Apostolic Church, etc.), which he designed in the same period and in a style similar to that of the buildings owned by Sophie de Plaisance.