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Happy Days In Egypt

Watercolor created during James Deering's trip to Egypt.

By Bruce Williams, Collections Manager
Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

August 13, 2020

We have a new offering for visitors on the first floor of the Main House.  The “Happy Days in Egypt” exhibition from several years back has been re-envisioned and is now displayed in the Entrance Hall surrounded by objects and architectural elements depicting mythological tales from the ancient world.

Display of Happy Days in Egypt exhibit on display at Vizcaya.
Vizcaya’s “Happy Days in Egypt” exhibition includes watercolors created during the trip.

In early 1912, as Vizcaya’s owner James Deering prepared to purchase land in Miami and interview architects, he traveled to Egypt. A group of close friends and relatives, including his half-brother Charles Deering, and his sister Abby’s husband, Richard Howe, accompanied James Deering for the three-week tour.

With ample comic relief, this collection of watercolor cards document their trip up the Nile River aboard the riverboat Oonas. Though the cards are unsigned, they are most likely the work of Charles Deering, who studied art in Paris in the early 1890s. These lighthearted illustrations offer a rare glimpse into the social context and personality of James Deering during one of his favorite pastimes: traveling the world. 

Each card includes brief captions in which James Deering is referred to as “Chim” and Richard Howe is referred to as “Tick.”

Watercolor created during James Deering's trip to Egypt.
Watercolor created during James Deering’s trip to Egypt. Courtesy of Vizcaya Museum and Gardens Archive.