Robert Winthrop Chanler_Porcupines ScreenOyster Bay, New York – January 7, 2020 – Planting Fields Foundation (“Planting Fields” or “the Foundation”) announced today that its first exhibition for 2020, The Electrifying Art and Spaces of Robert Winthrop Chanler, will open in Coe Hall April 9 through July 31.  The exhibition features 12 works of art including decorative screens, panels and canvases loaned to the Foundation from several private collections throughout the northeast, many of which will be visible to the public for the first time ever.  The works highlight Chanler’s depiction of frenzied worlds and his singular usage of metallic paints in a range of physical scale, the smallest being 2’ x 3’ and the largest 6’ x 11’.  Chanler (1872-1930) is best known for his decorative creations in exclusive interiors and affluent estates of the early twentieth century, but only a limited number of his works survive today and only a handful of those are in the public realm.

“2020 marks the centennial anniversary of the completion of the Robert Winthrop Chanler Buffalo Mural in Coe Hall and we are thrilled to celebrate the milestone with this new exhibition,” said Gina Wouters, Executive Director, Planting Fields Foundation. “Thanks to the generosity and partnership of collectors throughout New York and beyond, we are able to share with our visitors a rare look at Chanler’s extraordinary talent.”

J. Winthrop Aldrich, former N.Y. State Deputy Commissioner for Historic Preservation and the grandnephew of Chanler states, “The renewal of popular and scholarly interest in the work of Robert W. Chanler is highlighted by this magnificent loan exhibition of panels and folding screens installed at Planting Fields.  It is here that exactly a century ago Chanler created for his patrons W.R. and Mai Coe the celebrated “Buffalo Mural,” which has now been meticulously restored by Planting Fields Foundation and the State of New York.  The colorful, imaginative depiction of birds, fish, animals and flora in the art works on display reveal a unique aesthetic, startingly evoking both nature and fantasy and reminding us that encountering art can be fun.”

The Opening Preview Reception will take place on Thursday, April 9 from 6:00- 9:00 PM.  Exhibition programming, including special guided tours, guest speakers, concerts and workshops will be announced in the coming months.  

History of the Buffalo Mural

In 1918 W.R. and Mai Coe engaged Robert Winthrop Chanler, a New York City-based artist, and one of the famed Astor orphans, to create the Buffalo Mural as an homage to Wyoming, a place that they, their children and grandchildren spent many happy summers.  Located in the family breakfast room, the mural depicts the western landscape with buffalo and deer painted with metallic powders on thickly layered plaster to stand out in slight relief.  In 1921, Chanler was also invited to create the wall and ceiling murals of Mai Coe’s bedroom, designed by Elsie de Wolfe.  Chanler decorated studios of Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, the Park Avenue Colony Club and several private estates throughout the country.  Planting Fields Foundation and New York State Parks have been deeply committed to ensuring the preservation of the Buffalo Mural through ongoing, multi-year treatments conducted by conservators from the Bureau of Historic Sites at Peebles Island.  The analysis of paint samples acquired through treatments completed in 2019 revealed new discoveries that will enable conservators to restore the mural’s integrity and the artist’s original intent.  Chanler’s unconventional techniques and material choices have challenged conservators for the last decade and a half, as they did the Coes who also endeavored to maintain it in the years following the mural’s completion. 

About Planting Fields Foundation

Planting Fields Foundation preserves and interprets Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park as the premier public garden and Gold Coast estate for today and tomorrow while creating enriching experiences for the visiting public. Founded in 1952 by William R. Coe, the Foundation is a not for profit public educational foundation chartered by the New York State Board of Regents and tax exempt under the status for a 501C3 organization. 

Located in Oyster Bay, New York and originally landscaped by the Olmsted Brothers of Brookline, Massachusetts, the Arboretum grounds feature 409 acres of greenhouses, rolling lawns, formal gardens, woodland paths and outstanding plant collections.  The original historic estate buildings remain intact including Coe Hall, a 65-room Tudor Revival mansion designed by Walker & Gillette.  The interior of the house is a showcase of artistry and craftsmanship and features a distinctly American aesthetic through original ironwork commissions by Samuel Yellin and murals painted by artists Robert Winthrop Chanler and Everett Shinn.  Planting Fields is included in the National Register of Historic Places, the official list of the nation’s historic sites worthy of preservation. To learn more about Planting Fields Foundation, please visit the website at




Winn Keaten

Planting Fields Foundation

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