Magazine article The Spectator

A Connoisseur's Eye

Magazine article The Spectator

A Connoisseur's Eye

Article excerpt

Alec Cobbe is a designer, painter, musician, picture restorer and collector, and has recently donated drawings, photographs and other archives to the V&A, where some of this collection is now on display.

Cobbe was born in Dubl in and aged four moved to the family house Newbridge, an 18th-century, 50-room country villa de signed by James Gibbs, which, he says, was the 'single greatest influence on my life'. He had an 'idyllic lamplit childhood' - there was no electricity - where the 'running water was rainwater, which had to be pumped daily to a tank at the top of the house'. And to keep young Alec amused there were pictures, historic interiors and a 'museum' of curiosities (fossils, snake skins, small animal skulls), which had been started by his ancestors in the 1740s.

Over the past 40 years, Cobbe has advised many stately-home owners on their houses' interiors, making sure that the rehanging of paintings (which he may well have restored, too) will complement any architectural detail; he provides detailed sketches and watercolours of his schemes. …

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