Alec Cobbe was born in Dublin and trained as a paintings conservator at the Tate Gallery, and now he combines his conservation activities with the design of historic interiors and practices as an artist.
Since 1981 he has carried out interior design and picture hanging numerous historic houses, with clients who include the Royal Collection, Historic Royal Palaces, the National Trust, for English Heritage he re-designed the presentation of major rooms at Kenwood House and for Eton College he designed a new library; for the Courtauld Galleries at Somerset House he re-designed the schemes for the series of Fine Rooms by William Chambers; in 1998 he redesigned the interiors of the German Ambassador’s residence in Belgrave Square; he has carried out schemes for numerous private owners at country houses such as designing the Sitwell Museum at Renishaw Hall and schemes at Burghley, Harewood and Hatfield House in the UK and Castletown, Co. Kilkenny, and Abbeyleix, Co. Laois, in Ireland. His design career archive was acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum, and celebrated with a retrospective exhibition there in 2014 and at Dublin Castle in 2015.
During several decades he formed the Cobbe Collection of Composers’ Keyboard instruments. His publications include James Gibbs in Ireland, 2002 (co-authored with Terry Friedman), Chopin’s Swansong, the pianos of his last performances, 2010, 300 Years of Composers’ Instruments (co-authored with Christopher Nobbs), 2014, and Birds, Bugs and Butterflies: Lady Betty Cobbe’s ‘Peacock’ China, 2019.