Chris Dobson’s passion for art and history was ignited in his childhood by his father, who was a Bletchley Park code-breaker during WW2. He encouraged Chris to travel, which led to his first visit to Italy in 1979. In his professional life since then, he has worked for, in and around museums in the field of applied arts for over 30 years, originally on arms and armour. He worked his way into the field just like the artists of the Renaissance, with his hands: working in media from gold and silver to cast bronze. In 1995 his academic approach to his craft led to his appointment as Master Armourer to the Royal Armouries, being presented to the Queen at the inauguration of his new studio. Over the years he has been a regular speaker at study days at the Wallace Collection, London.
From the outset his field of research encompassed Italian art and history, and Florence has been the central focus of his work for over 20 years. As an art historian, he is unique in the museum world: doing academic research and curatorial work for collections, but grounded in the ‘hands-on’ experience of an artist. This creative blending of artistic technique and scholarly enquiry is very much in the spirit of the Italian Renaissance. Following his period in residency at the Royal Armouries he combined his knowledge of Italian arms and art to write the book San Romano, the Art of War. In 2005, he was consultant on the BBC TV programme The Battle of San Romano, part of the series The Private Life of a Masterpiece. For his presentations and tours, he brings all of his experience together: both as an artist, and a lecturer and academic researcher. He speaks Italian fluently.
Publications, Articles and Appearances
Surprising Piedmont: A Medieval Jewel in the North (Arttrav article, August 7th 2017). Read on Arttrav here
The Heraldry of Florence 1: The Heraldry of the Palazzo Vecchio (Article on this website, August 2nd 2017). Read here
Gilding the Lily. A Fresh Look at the Sculptures of Orsanmichele (Italian Art and History Essays 2, February 2017). Read here
Gothic Piedmont. The Art at the Foot of the Mountain (Italian Art and History Essays 1, February 2017). Read here
Medieval Hell’s Angels in the Florence Baptistry (Arttrav article, December 13th 2016). Read on Arttrav here
The Art of Assassination: The Pazzi Conspiracy and the Frescoes of Benozzo Gozzoli (Article on this website, March 24th 2016). Read here
The Ponte Vecchio. The Old Bridge of Florence (Chris Dobson eBook, December 2015). Available here
Sex, Violence and Parties: Politics in Renaissance Florence (Arttrav article, May 11th 2015). Read on Arttrav here
6 Things you didn’t know about the Ponte Vecchio (Arttrav article, March 12th 2015). Read on Arttrav here
How to Spot the Hidden Medieval Towers of Florence (Arttrav article, February 17th 2015). Read on Arttrav here
The Lost Towers of Florence. A Vanished Medieval Skyline (Chris Dobson eBook, Second Edition November 2014). Available here
"like burning coals of fire": Meet the Angels (Vinoutlet talk, Florence, July 2014).
"Un uomo di cultura straordinaria". Federico II, Dante e Firenze (Vinoutlet talk, Florence, June 2014).
Silk, Steel and Peacocks' Tails. Fashion in Renaissance Florence (Vinoutlet talk, Florence, June 2014).
Smoke and Shadows. High Renaissance Painting in Florence (Vinoutlet talk, Florence, May 2014).
The Compasses and the Knife. The Art of Assassination in Medici Florence (Vinoutlet talk, Florence, April 2014).
The Lost Towers of Florence. A Vanished Medieval Skyline (Chris Dobson eBook, January 2014).
San Romano, the Art of War (Second edition as eBook December 2013). Available here
Sangiovese: Blood of Jupiter (Vinoutlet talk, Florence, October 2013).
Alla Tedesca? Italian ‘Gothic’ Armour and the Export Trade (Chris Dobson eBook, July 2012).
The Private Life of a Masterpiece, ‘The Battle of San Romano’ (consultant and interview, BBC2 television 2005, BBC USA television, 2008).
San Romano, the Art of War (lecture, IAAConference, Art and Arms. Florence, City of the Medici, 2003).
San Romano, the Art of War (Chris Dobson 2001).