The statues, busts, vases and urns that decorate Vizcaya’s gardens range from antiquity to the Renaissance and Baroque periods, and include modern art from Deering’s time.
While Chalfin’s intent was to acquire artifacts as decoration rather than to assemble a collection, the gardens do preserve a large number of important eighteenth-century sculptures representing mythological figures. These sculptures originally decorated villas around Venice, Italy.
One of the most monumental outdoor sculptures at Vizcaya is the central element of the Fountain Garden. This was designed in 1722 by Filippo Barigioni (1680–1753), the architect who created the fountain in front of the Pantheon in Rome.
What makes Vizcaya unique among American country estates of the time is the combination of these antique elements with new sculptural decorations by contemporary artists, such as Gaston Lachaise (1882–1935), Charles Cary Rumsey (1879–1922) and Robert Winthrop Chanler (1872–1930). Chanler was responsible for the ceiling of the swimming pool, an extraordinary stucco bas-relief representing the underwater flora and fauna of the Florida Keys.
The most outstanding of Vizcaya’s twentieth-century features is the Barge, sculpted by Alexander Stirling Calder (1870–1945). Located in the water in front of the Main House, the Barge is a monumental breakwater shaped as a boat and decorated with carving representing mythical Caribbean creatures. During Deering’s time, there were also full-grown trees, a latticework pavilion and fountains on the Barge.