My passion for art and history was ignited in my childhood by my father, who was a Bletchley Park code-breaker during WW2. He encouraged me to travel, which led to my first visit to Italy in 1979. In my professional life since then, I have worked for, in and around museums in the field of applied arts for over 30 years, originally on arms and armour. I worked my way into the field just like the the artists of the Renaissance, with my hands: working in media from gold and silver to cast bronze. In 1995 my academic approach to my craft led to my appointment as Master Armourer to the Royal Armouries, being presented to the Queen at the inauguration of my new studio. Over the years I have been a regular speaker at study days at the Wallace Collection, London.
From the outset my field of research encompassed Italian art and history, and Florence has been the central focus of my work for over 20 years. As an art historian, I am 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 my period in residency at the Royal Armouries I combined my knowledge of Italian arms and art to write the book San Romano, the Art of War. In 2005, I was consultant on the BBC TV programme The Battle of San Romano, part of the series The Private Life of a Masterpiece. For my presentations and tours, I bring all my experience together: both as an artist, and a lecturer and academic researcher. I speak Italian fluently.
Nature by Design, The Protection Racket (appearance, BBC2 television, 1993).
The ‘All'Antica’ Embossing of Armour (live demonstration, Wallace Collection Arms and Armour Study Day, London 1999).
San Romano, the Art of War (Chris Dobson 2001).
St George’s Workforce (article, Park Lane Arms Fair Catalogue, 2002).
The Horned Helmet of Henry VIII – The Inspector Morse Approach (Lecture, Wallace Collection Arms and Armour Study Day, London 2003).
San Romano, the Art of War (lecture, IAAConference, Art and Arms. Florence, City of the Medici, 2003).
‘As Tough as Old Boots’? A Study of Hardened Leather Armour. Part 1: Techniques of Manufacture (lecture and paper, IAAConference, Art and Arms. Florence, City of the Medici, 2003).
What do Armourers’ Marks Mean? (article, Park Lane Arms Fair Catalogue, 2005).
The Restoration and Re-Mounting of the Armour of Willhelm von Roggendorf (Lecture, IAAConference, Imperial Splendour, Vienna, 2005).
Renaissance and Rebirth. An Example of Ethical Restoration (lecture, IAAConference, Imperial Splendour, Vienna, 2005).
The Private Life of a Masterpiece, ‘The Battle of San Romano’ (consultant and interview, BBC2 television 2005, BBC USA television, 2008).
Alla Tedesca? Italian ‘Gothic’ Armour and the Export Trade (Chris Dobson eBook July 2012).
Sangiovese: Blood of Jupiter (Vinoutlet talk, Florence, October 2013).
San Romano, the Art of War (Second edition as eBook December 2013).
The Compasses and the Knife. The Art of Assassination in Medici Florence (Vinoutlet talk, Florence, April 2014).
Smoke and Shadows. High Renaissance Painting in Florence (Vinoutlet talk, Florence, May 2014).
Arming the Faithful. The Armour and Weapons of the Templars and Hospitallers (lecture, Cambridge, May 2014).
Silk, Steel and Peacocks' Tails. Fashion in Renaissance Florence (Vinoutlet talk, Florence, June 2014).
"Un uomo di cultura straordinaria". Federico II, Dante e Firenze (Vinoutlet talk, Florence, June 2014).
"like burning coals of fire": Meet the Angels (Vinoutlet talk, Florence, July 2014).
The Lost Towers of Florence. A Vanished Medieval Skyline (Chris Dobson eBook, January 2014).
The Lost Towers of Florence. A Vanished Medieval Skyline (Chris Dobson eBook, Second Edition November 2014). Available on Amazon here
The Ponte Vecchio. The Old Bridge of Florence (Chris Dobson eBook, December 2015). Available on Amazon here
Gothic Piedmont. The Art at the Foot of the Mountain (Italian Art and History Essays 1, February 2017). Available on Amazon here
Gilding the Lily. A Fresh Look at the Sculptures of Orsanmichele (Italian Art and History Essays 2, February 2017). Available on Amazon here