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Charles Rennie Mackintosh
(1868 – 1928)

Charles Rennie Mackintosh is the designer most commonly associated with the Glasgow Style. Born in Glasgow, the son of a police superintendent, he studied part-time at the Glasgow School of Art from 1883 until 1894. As an apprentice architect, he befriended Herbert McNair with whom he worked and studied and fell under the radar of Fra’ Newberry who introduced the two friends to the Macdonald sisters, recognising similarities in their work.

 

Mackintosh completed numerous commissions in the city, including interior schemes for Miss Cranston's Tea Rooms and designed the Glasgow School of Art in Renfrew Street, a controversial building at the time.  He married Margaret Macdonald and in 1914, they left Glasgow, from then on living in various places in England and in France. As tastes and styles changed, Mackintosh was unable or unwilling to adapt. He struggled to earn a living and gained few commissions, eventually electing only to paint. He died in 1928 in London aged 60, his funeral attended by six people. Margaret passed away five years later. In a period of ten years from the peak of his success, he had disappeared into relative obscurity, where he was to remain until around the 1970s.

 

Examples of his work, including furniture and interiors, are on display at Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery in Glasgow and his architecture can be seen in and around the city. The Hunterian Art Gallery houses an important collection of the works of Mackintosh and Margaret Macdonald, including a complete re-assemblage of their home at Southpark Avenue. While Mackintosh is considered the rightful lead of the Glasgow Style, to an extent, he has overshadowed the other Glasgow Style designers.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh
The Harvest Moon, 1892
Watercolour.
Oak High Back Chair
High backed stained oak chair with drop-in seat. The top rail is in the form of an oval splat pierced with a crescent shape suggestive of a bird in flight. The splat pierces the uprights of the chair, which are themselves shaped from oblong at their base to circular section at the top. The back of the chair is attenuated so the top rail is above the head of the sitter. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Textile Design
Watercolour, circa 1918
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Fireplace for the Willow Tea Rooms
Fireplace for the Willow Tea Rooms, Glasgow, circa 1904, in wood and iron, with ceramic tile surround. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Ebonised Oak Ladderback Chair
For Miss Cranston's Willow Tearooms, Ebonised oak ladderback chair, circa 1903. The high back with thirteen gently bowed rectangular horizontal splats above original rush covered drop-in seat, raised above square section legs, joined by five cylindrical stretchers. Image courtesy of Lyon and Turnbull, Fine Art Auctioneers.
Ladderback - reverse
For Miss Cranston's Willow Tearooms, Ebonised oak ladderback chair, circa 1903. The high back with thirteen gently bowed rectangular horizontal splats above original rush covered drop-in seat, raised above square section legs, joined by five cylindrical stretchers. Image courtesy of Lyon and Turnbull, Fine Art Auctioneers.
Tea Spoons
Pair of electroplated 'Miss Cranston's' tea spoons, trefoil terminal, with circular bowl, reverse of stem stamped 'Miss Crasnton's', each 13cm long. Ken McArthur for McTear’s
Textile Design
Watercolour on tracing paper, circa 1918. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
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