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Portrait of the week: Tom Osbourne Robinson by GHB Holland

Published: Monday, 15 May 2023

A full-length/ standing portrait of Thomas Osborne Robinson by George Buckingham Holland

'Thomas Osbourne Robinson' by George Herbert Buckingham Holland, c.1948

Born 1904 in Northampton Thomas Osbourne Robinson OBE was a celebrated stage and costume designer; he played a pivotal role in 20th century theatre and worked with the Royal Shakespeare company.

At seventeen Osbourne Robinson saw a performance of ‘The Sleeping Princess’ by the Diaghilev Russian Ballet company which inspired him to pursue a career in theatrical design.  Subsequently he trained at the Northampton school of art, alongside GHB Holland. From 1928 he forged a lifelong association with the Northampton Repertory Theatre (based at the Royal Theatre) where he became head of design.  In 1969 he was awarded an OBE for services to the arts in Northampton.  

GHB Holland was born 1901, in Northampton.  Initially his art career was in the commercial sector, however he was soon able to establish a successful studio in East Park Parade, specialising in portraiture as well as still life and landscapes.
Holland was a founder-member of the Northampton Town and County Art Society and was the societies president from 1949 – 1950. This work wonderfully captures the sitter’s essence, depicting a keen sense of playfulness and theatrical flamboyance.  It was presented to Northampton Museum and Art gallery by friends of Osbourne Robinson to honour his legacy.  

Currently on display in our ‘Power of the Portrait’ exhibition until 4 June.