Alec Cobbe was born in Dublin and studied medicine at Oxford University, where he won a prize for anatomical drawing. After a half year of clinical training in London, he relinquished his medical studies to practise as an artist. He also trained as a picture restorer at the Tate Gallery and the Courtauld Institute of Art.

Between 1972 and 1981 Alec worked as a picture restorer successively at the Birmingham City Museum and Art Gallery and the Hamilton Kerr Institute of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, after which he commenced his own practice. As an artist and designer he specialised in the design of historic interiors and the reorganisation of picture hanging schemes for both public and private historic collections.

His works have been the subject of several exhibitions, including at the Prince of Wales Drawing Schools in 1995, a major retrospective at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2013-14 and a show at Dublin Castle in 2014-15. Alec’s design archive has entered the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum. 

He has exhibited as an artist throughout his life in Paris, Dublin and London. He has also executed a large number of painted graphic designs for various clients including the Prince of Wales, who contributed a foreword to the Victoria and Albert Museum exhibition publication.

Some highlights of his design work include the design of the Clive Museum at Powis Castle, of the Mary Queen of Scots chambers at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the presentation of major rooms at Kenwood House and Somerset House, the Library in Lupton’s Tower, Eton College, the Sitwell Museum at Renishaw; interior design and picture hangs in numerous country houses, including Dublin Castle, Harewood House, Hatfield House, Hillsborough Castle, Knole and Petworth House.