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Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

Art Collections in the House

Art Collections in the House Art Collections in the House

The rooms in the Main House were designed around pieces of furniture, paneling and architectural elements such as gates and fireplaces. Every object contributes to the decorative context of the room in which it resides. As such, the objects and interiors played an important role in determining the architecture of the house.

Chalfin was an expert in Italian furniture and interiors, and the rooms in the Main House reflect his interest in different periods of history. The eighteenth century was the main inspiration for Vizcaya—ranging from the asymmetrical and highly inventive Rococo to the more linear and austere Neoclassical style.

Chalfin also wanted to evoke the style of different Italian cities, and so Vizcaya has rooms inspired by Milan (Music Room), Palermo (Reception Room) and Venice (the Cathay and Espagnolette bedrooms). In Deering’s personal suite, Chalfin assembled masculine, but yet ornate, furniture of the Napoleonic era, while in the Living Room and Dining Room he followed the fashion for “modern” Renaissance interiors popular among art collectors in Europe and the United States.

Chalfin was not interested in historical consistency and he was skilled at integrating new elements of his own design into old artifacts, creating eclectic ensembles. Vizcaya was, after all, designed as a vacation house, and the décor is consistently playful and whimsical. 

Nonetheless, today, Vizcaya has one of the most significant collections of Italian furniture in the United States.