Robert Winthrop Chanler
Gardens, Vizcaya Museum And
The lively chronicle of American modernism is populated with a cast of fascinating characters, but few were as exuberant as Robert Winthrop Chanler (1872-1930). He made his artistic reputation with exotic and brilliantly colored lacquered screens whose compositions feature fantastical avian, jungle, and aquatic creatures, many overlaid with iridescent metallic finishes. Critically and publicly acclaimed, Chanler was a unique decorative artist whose reputation centered on exquisite, elaborately crafted lacquered screens and architectural interiors, typically populated by exotic and fantastic flora and fauna. Later in his career he turned to portraiture, which one sitter described as a career and social experience. A scion of American aristocracy, he led a flamboyant life, the "lurid details" of which attracted as much attention as his art, according to one scholar. Chanler's work is now regaining long-overdue attention, particularly among art historians and preservationists. The increasing interest occurs in tandem with mounting urgency surrounding the preservation of his art, particularly his architectural projects.
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