Gerald and Sara Murphy, a wealthy young American couple, arrived in Paris in 1921 and walked into the Modernist cultural revolution sweeping through France. They were charter members of the Lost Generation chronicled so poignantly by Ernest Hemingway in "The Sun Also Rises." In fact, they were with Hemingway at Pamploona, Spain in 1926 for the famous running of the bulls.
The Murphy legend began earlier in the summer of 1922 when songwriter Cole Porter, a friend of Gerald’s at Yale, invited the couple to beautiful Cap d’Antibes on the French Riviera. Normally in that era, people did not vacation on the Riviera in the summer, but the Murphys were enchanted with the area. They bought a spacious villa on Cap d’Antibes, remodeled it, and moved in the summer of 1925, christening their new home Villa America.
A glittering array of guests found their way to the gardened terrace of the graciously entertaining Murphys: Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Pablo Picasso and other notable artists of the Paris avant garde, Hemingway, John Dos Passos, Archibald MacLeish, and the colorful Dorothy Parker. Fitzgerald modeled the characters Dick and Nicole Diver in his novel Tender is the Night on the Murphys. During the 1920s, Gerald took up painting and earned a reputation for a well-crafted series of precisionist paintings foreshadowing future Pop Art trends.
In the 1930s misfortune befell the Murphys as first one son contracted an ultimately fatal case of tuberculosis while a second son died suddenly from meningitis at prep school. At the same time, financial ruin almost overtook the family’s Mark Cross luxury goods business in New York and the Murphys sailed back to America to rescue their business and their fortunes.