Thursday, March 24, 2011

Vizcaya: Living room and East Loggia

The largest room at Vizcaya is the Living Room - 25' wide and 50' long with ceilings which soar to 20 feet high. This is nearly a double-cube which follows the Renaissance rules of porportioning. The ceilings again are imported from a 16th century Venetian Palazzo but are modified to fit the room. Chalfin decorated the room in French Renaissance style, perhaps not the most cozy of styles to select but appropriate for the collections.Originally the room also housed more 'modern' couches for comfort and was not as museum-like as it appears today. The tapestry decorates plain plaster walls and dates from the mid 16th century from Ferrara and depicts the labors of Hercules.The fence you see helps to protect a valuable heraldic rug woven in the 15th century for the grandfather of King Ferdinand of Spain, an Admiral in the Spanish navy. The flooring underneath is dark terrazzo which is appropriate for the seaside setting.
Chalfin grimaced at the inclusion of a Welte pipe organ which runs on player rolls (which still works and CDs are available in the gift shop!) but Deering insisted. The designer did his best to mask the machine, housed in the small room next door, behind a 17th century Neopolitan altar painting which was cut into 2 to allow for access to the organ.
The most expensive item bought for the house (at $12,000 -remember these are 1915 dollars!) was the French Renaissance chimney of Caen stone from the Chateau de Regneville, which required the 20' tall ceiling.The figural top is actually not original but was created by Chalfin's design staff as a sort of finial to complement the chimneypiece.
Salvaged Roman columns line the room and are topped with electric candelabra to charming affect.
After leaving the living room one passes through the East Loggia which faces the bay, opposite the courtyard from the entry loggia.The double columns, beloved of John Singer Sargent, are seen here with the blue curtains passing between them as well as the more contemporary glass doors which were added when the courtyard was enclosed.
The highlight of the space is a 5' long model of a Spanish caravel. Imagine this ship swaying in the bayside breezes when the loggia was open.
The 4 cedar doors into interior spaces came from the 18th century Palazzo Torlonia in Rome. They feature mounted decorations in bronze and the original marble surrounds. The loggia was originally treated as the outdoor living room and was furnished with comfortable wicker furniture with brightly colored cushions. As it had one of the best views of Biscayne Bay in the house, it's not hard to imagine guests spending the majority of their time here.
The historic photos come from the book 'Vizcaya; an American Villa and Its makers' by Witold Rybczynski and Laurie Olin which I highly recommend while the remainder of the photos, as throughout my Vizcaya tour, are my own.

7 comments:

Mark D. Ruffner said...

A great tour, as always, Stefan! I'm always interested to see how tugs of war between designers and their clients are resolved. Here, it looks as though Deere and Chalfin both got their way.

Divine Theatre said...

Heartbreakingly beautiful!

Todd said...

Wow - really gorgeous! I love the boat!

Reggie Darling said...

Stefan, I am most enjoying this series on Vizcaya, another one of your excellent tours. I visited Vizcaya many years ago, shortly before the atrium was built. I was the only visitor to the house that day (so the docent told me) and it was rather shabby and rundown at the time, and certainly showed the ravages that the Miami climate had wreaked on much of its contents. The blue and yellow curtains were long gone (since replaced I see to great effect), and it was all rather forlorn and Sunset Boulevard-ish. I am glad to see it is so well cared for these days, but I think--from seeing your photographs--that some of the pleasure of the house is lost by not furnishing it as comfortably as it was in Deering's day.

BruttiBuoni said...

Bronze is fierce.

quintessence said...

Really such a spectacular space - I think the chimney piece makes it - what a statement. I love that they had wicker mixed in with all the grander elements - an original eclectic look!

soodie :: said...

i too am really loving your Vizcaya series!!!