img_62-1.jpg
The late Robyn Robb.

You have 2 more free articles remaining

Robyn Robb (nee Cooper) was born on December 28, 1945 at Yarrawonga on the south bank of the Murray River in the Australian state of Victoria. She was raised with her brother Barry on a large agricultural farm and estate that had belonged to her family for many generations.

Happy childhood years were spent growing up in that wonderful rich landscape surrounded by gum trees and eucalyptus, the scent of which she carried in her memories to the end. Her great aunt was a collector of indigenous Australian artefacts and it was these fascinating objects that were to nurture in Robyn her first sense of history, objects and collecting.

Robyn travelled to London in 1978 with thoughts of a career in theatre design. However, in February 1982, after having attended a short course of lectures on English porcelain arranged by the Study Centre at the Victoria and Albert Museum, she joined Anne George, the doyenne dealer of early English porcelain, at Albert Amor. Her first job was to help organise an exhibition of early Bow formed by Geoffrey Freeman, prior to its permanent loan to Pallant House Museum in Chichester.

From the very beginning she relished the world of collecting and research.

She began, in those early days, working with Hugh Tait of the British Museum, Anton Gabszewicz (who had recently published Bow Porcelain: The Collection Formed by Geoffrey Freeman), Elizabeth Adams, Dr David Redstone and Dr Bernard Watney.

All would also become great friends and respected colleagues throughout her life. Anne George noted at the time that Robyn “has a good sense of humour combined with an enormous enthusiasm for English porcelain”.

Robyn very quickly learnt the ropes of porcelain dealing through the yearly exhibitions that she and Anne George choreographed, selling the immense collections of Sir Seaton Wills of Littlecote House and the Andrew Sidders collection of coloured Worcester porcelain of the Dr Wall period, while encouraging the redoubtable Gerald Coke of Jenkyn Place in the formation of his collection of Worcester decorated in the London atelier of James Giles. The latter was eventually gifted to the Museum of Royal Worcester, where it is on show today.

In 1983 Robyn had married John Robb, a direct descendant of Matthew Boulton of the Soho works in Birmingham, and quickly became immersed further into an English family life that included three beloved stepchildren, Edmund, Camilla and Sarah. Shared interests included tennis: Robyn and John were both members at Hurlingham and Wimbledon.

In 1988, having formed an extensive knowledge of the subject, and having nurtured a particular love of Dr Wall period Worcester and the Giles atelier in particular, Robyn decided to branch out on her own. Her business thrived and enjoyed a devoted following of loyal collectors.

Her character was ideally suited to the profession. She was gentle and kind with her clients, encouraging beginners and discussing knowledgeably the collections of the more mature and established collectors, but at the same time a businesswoman.

Her stock was always modest in size, but of exceptional quality and extremely well chosen.

Robyn, a member of both the English and American Ceramic Circles, participated as an exhibitor at the International Ceramics Fair and Seminar from 1988-2010, at Art Antiques London (2010-16) and then at the Brian Haughton Gallery during the ‘Paradise of Collecting’ shows from 2017 onwards. She was also a loyal member of the BADA, showing at its yearly March fair in Chelsea.

She will be hugely missed by the art world, within which she inhabited such an intimate and uniquely valued space.

Paul Crane