Robert Whitley: Beauty, Function & Grace


Robert Whitley: Beauty, Function & Grace

February 22, 2008 - June 1, 2008

Sponsored by Flemington Car and Truck Country Family of Dealerships, John & Dorothy Meggitt, and The Wilke Murray Family. Additional funding provided by Jaqui & John Hover, Deno D. & Linda F. Papageorge, Jim Clare & Kathy Schroeher.

Bucks County artist Robert C. Whitley (b. 1924) is a master woodworker of national reputation who is grounded in the ancient traditions of craftsmanship, originality, and functionality. As he says, ‘A truly excellent design-one that is pleasing to the eye, graceful in line and serves a practical function- this will survive the trends and fads of the times and will retain its classic beauty forever.’

Whitley’s commissions include a chess set presented by President Richard Nixon to the Soviet Union (now in the collection of the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia), a re-creation of President John F. Kennedy’s Oval Office desk for the Kennedy Memorial Library in Boston, and the restoration of several important pieces at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, where he has served as master conservator. One of his classic designs, the Throne Bench, greets visitors to the Michener in Doylestown, in the museum’s entrance lobby.

Equally well versed in contemporary and antique furniture designs, Whitley is a third generation craftsman who inherited from his father and grandfather his skill at cabinetry, his knowledge of woods and joinery, and a family formula for oil finishing that is a trademark of his art. Whitley has a penchant for drawing the forms and rhythms of the natural world, and this fascination with nature has inspired the graceful curves in his elegant tables and chairs.

This retrospective exhibition was organized by the Michener Art Museum, and featured prime examples of both his contemporary furniture designs and historic reproductions.