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Monday, February 2, 2015

The Interiors of the Ringling Mansion, Ca' d'Zan

After 25 years of traveling John and Mable Ringling began construction on the house of their dreams in 1924. During all their years of travel they had been carefully collecting some of the worlds greatest works of art and Ca' d'Zan (House of John) was just the venue to showcase their treasures.

As I had slowly toured both the exterior of the home and it’s gardens sadly, I only had time to see the first and second floors as I had a plane to catch. I plan on visiting the third floor and tower in the future.

The guided tour begins in the solarium which features the loveliest azure ceiling. A foliated motif painted by Robert Webb surrounds the glorious lantern.

From there you pass through the reception room and into the ballroom.

The gold coffered ceiling features couples from across the globe engaging in their native dance which was painted by Willy Pogany.


Then it’s time to pass through the red velvet door.

Oh boy was there a struggle to keep my hands to myself!


This is the interior court which was styled like the great halls found in the ancient homes of Venice, which was the inspiration style for Ca' d'Zan .

Squares of black and white marble are laid in checkerboard fashion. An English Mortlake tapestry hangs between John and Mable’s portraits at the far end. 

There was a pianist playing the German Steinway which features a beautiful rosewood and ormolu case signed by Mellier. My mother in law, Jane, who has toured the home a great number of times opted to remain seated here and lend her sweet singing voice while I continued on with the tour.


The coffered ceiling features Florida pecky cypress painted in the Renaissance style and a skylight of Venetian glass. The crystal chandelier originally hung in the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York.

Mrs. Ringling purchased a great deal of the furnishings from various estate auctions. 20150119_110848

This was during the time that the great mansions, such as the Astor’s and Gould’s, were being torn down on 5th Avenue in New York to make way for the Empire State building. 20150119_110906

Most of the furnishings are Italian and French Renaissance revival pieces , as well as from the periods of Louis XIV, XV and XV.

Glorious Venetian glass can be found in many of the windows in various shades of amethyst, blue, rose , green and yellow. Truly a dazzling way to showcase the magnificent view of Sarasota Bay.20150119_101058

This is the breakfast room which features Italian antique furniture and artwork.

I absolutely adored the chandelier with it’s green Venetian glass.20150119_101223

Here is a detailed closed up of the Italian antique sideboard.20150119_111230

Then it was on to the valet room, pantry and kitchen. You can see the special German silver sink which had a softer forgiving finish in which to wash the fine antique china and crystal.

Rows and rows of cabinetry were filled with fine dinnerware and everyday serving pieces.20150119_102401

Everything was quite modern and the top of the line when this kitchen was constructed between 1924-1926.20150119_102242

Just look at this darling vignette with it’s beautiful ice box.

There were other porcelain sinks for washing produce and other tasks. The light in the kitchen was amazing.20150119_102323

The state dining room features walnut paneling. The antique chairs are covered in elaborate red velvet and needlepoint.

A plaster dining room ceiling, painted to look like wood, was done by Robert Webb and decorated with designs from unset cameos belonging to Mable.

The fireplace is a carved stone copy of an Italian Renaissance model. Over it is suspended a glazed terra cotta tondo of the Virgin Adoring the Child, in the man-

ner of Andrea della Robbia, a Florentine sculptor of the 15th century.

Right next to this room is the bar. It features leaded glass wall-panels and a bar that were once in the famous Cicardi Winter Palace Restaurant in St. Louis, which was a favorite haunt of Mr. Ringling's.  

This is the hallway that separates the dining room and pub from the central hall.

The detailing on the gilded chairs is just amazing!20150119_111809

Around the corner is the elevator which is once again working. It has a carved stone door-frame in Florentine Renaissance style topped by a frescoed

lunette which depicts the Madonna and Child with two angels.

Up close detailing of stonework.

I opted to take the marble staircase to the second floor.20150119_102009-001

The first room to be viewed is John Ringling’s bedroom which is done in the French Empire style (also known as Regency Style in Britain and Federal Style in the U.S.). I loved the gilded door and window frames.

The empire furniture is made of rosewood decorated with gold ormolu.20150119_112405

Right next door was Mable Ringing’s bedroom.

Her suite of Louis XV revival furniture was made of inlaid sandalwood and lovely ormolu. 20150119_113213-001

The bedding was fashioned by Mrs. Ringling herself out of bits of Venetian, Irish, Belgian lace she had collected on her travels.20150119_113232

A wonderful bit of history was that my mother in law Jane’s grandfather installed all the gold plumbing fixtures in Mable’s bathroom.

After Mable’s passing John remarried again. This is his second wife, Emily Haag Buck Ringling’s, bathroom. I loved that even the interior of the medicine cabinet was painted.

Here is a better view of the central hall ceiling and chandelier.

There are many notable tapestries that hang in the upper hall. They include on the west wall two 17th century Flemish tapestries depicting episodes in the life of Alexander the Great. 
A third tapestry included in the Alexander series,”The Conqueror Beside a Pool”, is on the south balcony wall. To the right of this is hung one of a known set of six tapestries based on drawings by Peter Paul Rubens, which illustrate incidents from Achilles heroic career taken from Greek Mythology.

This is also a grand opportunity to look down on the glorious furnishings in the court.


The Aubusson rug is just massive.


It might be time to once again view the 1998 film “Great Expectations” starring Robert DeNiro, Anne Bancroft,  Gwyneth Paltrow, and Ethan Hawke in which Ca' d'Zan is the backdrop star.

I hope you enjoyed the tour of this truly grand home. 


Tour the Ringling Garden HERE.

To see the beautiful exteriors and the history of Ca' d'Zan go HERE.

Linking to:

Between Naps On The Porch, Classy Clutter, Stonegable, A Stroll Thru Life, Not Just A HousewifeA Bowl Full of Lemons, We Are That Family, Someday Crafts, The 36th Avenue, Ivy and Elephants, Savvy Southern Style, Katherine’s Corner, Posed Perfection, My Fabuless Life,The Style Sisters, Sew A Fine Seam, Craftberry Bush, French Country Cottage, The Shabby Nest, Imparting Grace,My Romantic Home,The Charm of Home, AKA Design + Life, Shabby Creek Cottage, Classy ClutterTatertots and Jello, Funky Junk Interiors, My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia, The Dedicated House


GSGreatEscaper said...

It's almost incomprehensible, isn't it, that all these rooms and architectural features were removed from their original settings and brought to Sarasota, isn't it? And that the dollars to support all this came from the circus?

Vel Criste said...

WOW! This house is truly befitting the Ringling Legacy! THank you for the tour Laura! Isn't it amazing how you are somehow connected with this grand house too?! Something to truly brag about to the kids for sure!

Susan said...

Oh my GOODNESS, Laura. What a fabulous tour you gave us! Oh, I think that place is quite magnificent. WOW WOW WOWSERS. And how wonderful they allowed interior photos. Your photos are fabulous! The owners sure had opulent tastes! Thanks! Susan

Louise said...

It's beautilful
las lamparas me encantan!!

marty (A Stroll Thru Life) said...

Oh my this place is totally amazing. Your pictures and descriptions are fabulous. What a great tour.

Janet Garon said...

Wow! It is beyond comprehension. So grand! It reminds me of Downton Abbey. Just beautiful.

Christine said...

After watching Downton Abby, last night, this is even more over the top!
And you are related to someone who had a part in this work of art.

Magali@TheLittleWhiteHouse said...

This house is amazing! So many details and art everywhere. I wouldn't like to live there, but I sure would love to visit. Thanks for taking the time to share. I know how long it can take to select pictures after a visit.

FairfieldHouse said...

Laura, Thank you for taking us on this tour! I love the kitchen and Mabel's bathroom best, but the entire mansion is absolutely breathtaking.
Your Friend, Deborah

Pat@Life At Lydias House said...

Wow! What a wonderful tour! Thanks so much for taking us along! They just don't build homes like this any more!

Lana L. said...

Just as lovely inside as outside. I've really enjoyed this tour!

Jade Jones said...

I love so many things about this home. I agree I would have a hard time keeping my hands to my self. Following you now from the Blog hobnob.

Liz Hockamier said...

Amazing! :)