“Keeping the Partridge Table” explores the artifacts of Vizcaya’s collection. The title derives from a telegram James Deering, Vizcaya’s owner, sent to his artistic director Paul Chalfin in 1915. In his message he confirmed the name Vizcaya, despite its dubious provenance, along with his affinity for a certain small table: “WILL KEEP PARTRIDGE TABLE AND ACCEPT NAME VIZIAYA [sic].”
In the creation of Vizcaya, Deering and Chalfin appropriated and repurposed from a vast array of sources—historic periods, countries and traditions—to create a romantic narrative for this ambitious and unlikely endeavor located on the water’s edge in a brand-new city that was itself hard at work inventing its own imagined past.
Deering amassed an extraordinary collection. When Vizcaya opened to the public in the 1930s, Chalfin wrote a series of articles for the Miami Herald describing Vizcaya’s artifacts. He took great pains to link the objects to history, including figures as diverse as Nero, Napoleon and Jefferson. Vizcaya, with its gathering of references and symbols, its eclectic abundance, and its odd mix of eccentricity and scrupulous attention to detail, was intended to awe Deering’s visitors from the moment they entered. The effect remains.
Launched in August 2014, “Keeping the Partridge Table” will be updated on a regular basis. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Approaching Vizcaya - A look at the entrances to Vizcaya and the origins of the estate’s name (August 2014)
Artist Robert Winthrop Chanler at Vizcaya - A Re-emerging American Modernist (December 2014)
Influencing Vizcaya - The Gilded Age and Chinoiserie (January 2015)
The Animals of Vizcaya - The wild, the domesticated, the representational (June 2015)
Booze and Bacchus at Vizcaya - Revelry Yesterday and Today (December 2015)