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Margaret Macdonald
(1864 – 1933)

Born in Wolverhampton, Margaret attended a progressive local school in her early years, studying art, French, German and Greek. In 1890 the family moved to Glasgow and together with her younger sister, Frances, she began attending the Glasgow School of Art.  In 1896 the sisters opened their own studio, producing painting, embroidery, gesso, posters, stained glass and metalwork. As early as 1897 their work drew attention, with coverage in The Studio and other leading art publications. In 1900, Margaret married Mackintosh and in 1914 they left Glasgow. 


Margaret’s work was exhibited widely and was probably more appreciated overseas. Between 1895 and 1924, she contributed to over forty exhibitions. She worked in a wide range of media, excelling as a watercolourist, metalworker embroiderer and graphic artist. She seems to have produced very little work from 1910 to 1922, with her last known work a painting in 1921. Margaret played an important role as both a muse and support to Mackintosh, collaborating with him often, as she had in her early career with her sister. She created embroidery and gesso panels to complement his interior schemes within Miss Cranston's Willow and Ingram Street Tea rooms.

Examples of her work are very rare. A painted gesso panel from 1902, The White Rose and The Red Rose, was sold in 2008 at Christie’s Auction House in London for £1,700,500. The Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery holds over 100 objects, including watercolours, graphics, textiles and personal letters. It is a sad injustice that despite her enormous talent and many prizes won, Margaret’s death in 1933 received only brief note in the press. 

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