Robert Winthrop Chanler

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About Robert Winthrop Chanler

Robert Winthrop Chanler

Robert Winthrop Chanler (1872–1930) was an American artist.

He was born in New York City to John Winthrop Chanler and Margaret Astor Ward, in a sea of wealthy and interconnected Hudson River families that included the Astors, Delanos, Winthrops and Stuyvesants. A designer and muralist, Chanler received much of his art training in France at the École des Beaux-Arts, and there his most famous work, titled "Giraffes", was completed in 1905 and later purchased by the French Government.

Robert D. Coe, who studied with him, described Chanler as being "eccentric and almost bizarre."

Chanler specialized in painted screens and was a member of the National Society of Mural Painters. A ceiling mural of buffaloes painted by Chanler is in the Coe House in Brookville, New York. He was also a member of the Architectural League of New York. His work was featured in the 1913 Armory Show in New York.

He had a whirlwind romance and marriage to Lina Cavalieri. This marriage lasted only a short time, after which Cavalieri returned to Europe where she became a much-loved star in pre-Revolutionary St. Petersburg, Russia and in the Ukraine.

Like Mai Rogers Coe and Everett Shinn, Chanler was staying in Paris in the 1890s and became involved with the art community. When he returned to the U.S in the early 1900s he purchased a townhouse on East 19th Street, decorated it with his own works, and called it his House of Fantasy that became a social center for New York’s art community. Like Everett Shinn, Chanler was a personality and a figure in his time.

Like many women of her class, Mai Rogers Coe was a patron of artists and had a taste for the elaborate decorative works of Robert Winthrop Chanler. Chanler painted decorative murals in Mai Coe's Bedroom (1921) and in the family's breakfast room, the Buffalo Room (1920).

Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney and Mai Rogers Coe were perhaps Chanler's greatest patrons, but he received commissions from other wealthy families for decorative murals and screens. By 1920, when he completed the murals in the Buffalo Room, Chanler’s work was well known. He later received favorable commentary in The Upholsterer and Interior Decorator magazine for his murals in Mai Coe’s bedroom (1921) and in International Studio magazine for his painted screens (1922). Chanler designed murals for Gertrude’s studio in Greenvale, New York, including a sea world fantasy in the bathroom. The studio is extant and privately owned.

Around this time, Chicago industrialist James Deering commissioned him to paint an "undersea fantasy" fresco on the ceiling of the indoor/outdoor swimming pool at Villa Vizcaya (1916-1925), Deering's winter home in Miami, Florida.

Chanler's work has been compared to the fantastical works of some renaissance painters. His works involve the use of sculpted gesso, transparent glazes, and gilded finishes to produce ornate and decorative designs. His work still exists in his family’s estate, “Rokeby” near Barrytown, New York, the Luxembourg Museum and in private collections across the country.

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Robert Winthrop Chanler's Timeline

New York, New York, United States
Age 58
Woodstock, Ulster County, New York, United States