A Finding Aid to the Terence Harold Robsjohn-Gibbings Papers in the Archives of American Art
Digitized Content

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.robstere
Creators:
Robsjohn-Gibbings, Terence Harold, 1905-
Dates:
1915-1977
1898
Languages:
English
The collection is in English.
Physical Description:
14.4 Linear feet
Repository:
The papers of furniture and interior designer Terence Harold Robsjohn-Gibbings measure 14.4 linear feet and date from 1898 to 1977 with the bulk of material dating from 1915 to 1977. Found within the papers are biographical material, correspondence, writings, project files, printed materials, artwork including 4 sketchbooks, 30 scrapbooks documenting Robsjohn-Gibbings career, and photographs of Robsjohn-Gibbings and his work.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The papers of furniture and interior designer Terence Harold Robsjohn-Gibbings measure 14.4 linear feet and date from 1898 to 1977, with the bulk of material dating from 1915 to 1977. Found within the papers are biographical material, correspondence, writings, project files, printed materials, artwork including 4 sketchbooks, 30 scrapbooks documenting Robsjohn-Gibbings career, and photographs of Robsjohn-Gibbings and his work.
Biographical materials consist of a key to the city of San Francisco, an award certificate, a photograph of a table from Robsjohn-Gibbings' personal art collection, and a ring design.
Correspondence is primarily with Robsjohn-Gibbings' friends, business associates, and scholarly researchers discussing relationships, business commissions, and his professional work. Correspondents of note include illustrators Alan Dunn and Mary Petty, and classical art historian Gisela Richter.
Writings by Robsjohn-Gibbings consist of 13 essays, 2 copies of the draft manuscript The Cuckoo Sings, 2 manuscript drafts of Furniture of Classical Greece, and a notebook of collected inspirational quotations. There is also a translation of a selection of Heinz Kahler's Hadrian und Seine Villa Bei Tivoli.
Project files include photographs and portfolios of 28 commercial and residential commissions; photographs and watercolor renderings of designs produced by Robsjohn-Gibbings Ltd.; photographs and portfolios of designs for Widdicomb Furniture Company; and printed material and research related to the furniture designs for Saridis of Athens. The series also includes portfolios of residences photographed by Ezra Stoller Associates, and photographs and notes for a 25 year Interior Design retrospective exhibition.
Printed material includes published books by Robsjohn-Gibbings, annotated books on Hadrian's Villa and decorative sculpture, catalogs, clippings, press releases, and miscellaneous printed material.
Photographs are of Robsjohn-Gibbings, his friends, his New York office and Athens apartment, and photo shoots for Life and Look magazines.
There are 24 volumes documenting Robsjohn-Gibbings career from 1936 to 1963, an additional 4 volumes of press coverage of his books, and 2 more volumes documenting European art and historical interior design.
Artwork includes 4 sketchbooks of classical Greek and Roman furniture designs rendered in graphite and watercolor by Robsjohn-Gibbings.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is arranged as 8 series.
  • Series 1: Biographical Materials, 1942-1970 (4 folders, Box 1)
  • Series 2: Correspondence, circa 1940-1976 (0.2 linear feet; Box 1)
  • Series 3: Writings, circa 1930-1976 (0.5 linear feet; Box 1, BV 12)
  • Series 4: Project Files, circa 1930-1976 (4 linear feet; Box 1-2, Box 6-8, BV 13-16, OV 42-53, OV 55)
  • Series 5: Printed Material, 1898-1977 (1.9 linear feet, Box 2-4, Box 9)
  • Series 6: Photographic Materials, 1915-1976 (0.3 linear feet; Box 4, Box 9, OV 54)
  • Series 7: Scrapbooks, 1936-1970 (5.9 linear feet, Box 9-11, BV 17-41)
  • Series 8: Artwork, circa 1930-1976 (0.5 linear feet; Box 4-5, Box 9)

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Terence Harold Robsjohn-Gibbings (1905-1976) was a furniture and interior designer who lived and worked in New York City and Athens, Greece.
Robsjohn-Gibbings was born in England and studied architecture at London University. In 1930, he immigrated to America and six years later opened his own interior decorating firm, Robsjohn-Gibbings Ltd., on Madison Avenue. Throughout the 1940s and 50s, he was one of the most recognized decorators in America and designed homes for Doris Duke, Alfred Knopf, and Thelma Chrysler Foy. One of his earliest commissions was Hilda Boldt Weber's 43 room Casa Encantada mansion in Bel-Air, for which he created more than 200 custom pieces of furniture between 1934 and 1938.
From 1943 to 1956, Robsjohn-Gibbings was the principal designer for the Widdicomb Furniture Company in Grand Rapids, Michigan. These residential furnishings reflected an elegant, simplistic aesthetic and were regularly showcased in the magazines Town and Country, Interior Design, Vogue, and House Beautiful.
He was a critic of the prevailing taste in Bauhaus modernism and Queen Anne, Georgian, and Spanish extravagance and expressed these views on design and aesthetics in the books Goodbye, Mr. Chippendale (1944), Mona Lisa's Moustache (1947), and Homes of the Brave (1953).
In 1960, he and his collaborator, Carlton Pullin, met the Greek furniture makers Susan and Eleftherios Saridis, who commissioned Robsjohn-Gibbings to design a line for their company, Saridis of Athens. These pieces were modeled after classical Greek forms and aesthetics, and are detailed in Robsjohn-Gibbings' Furniture of Classical Greece (1963).
In 1965, Robsjohn-Gibbings moved to Athens, Greece and continued designing residential and commercial spaces until his death in 1976.

Administration
Processing Information
The collections was processed and described in a finding aid by Judy Ng in 2013 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.
Author
Judy Ng
Sponsor
Processing of this collection was funded by the Terra Foundation for American Art
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Portions of the Terence Robsjohn-Gibbings papers were donated by the artist in 1966. In 1977, Margaret Carson donated a manuscript copy of The Cuckoo Sings. Later in 1977, the bulk of additional material in the collection was donated to the Archives of American Art by Robsjohn-Gibbing's associate and executor, Carlton Pullin.

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation
Terence Harold Robsjohn-Gibbings papers, 1898, 1915-1977. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Conditions Governing Access
Use of original papers requires an appointment.
Conditions Governing Use
The Terence Harold Robsjohn-Gibbings papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Scrapbooks Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sketchbooks Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Furniture design -- United States Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Furniture designers -- New York (State) -- New York Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Interior decorators -- New York (State) -- New York Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Decorative arts Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Dunn, Alan, 1900- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hadrian's Villa (Tivoli, Italy) Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Richter, Gisela Marie Augusta, 1882-1972 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Petty, Mary Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Robsjohn-Gibbings (Firm) Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hadrian, Emperor of Rome, 76-138 (Homes and Haunts) -- Italy -- Tivoli Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives of American Art
750 9th Street, NW
Victor Building, Suite 2200
Washington, D.C. 20001
https://www.aaa.si.edu/services/questions
https://www.aaa.si.edu/