Collection MC - Mackintosh Art, Design and Architecture Collection

A Pond The Fifth of November The Annunciation The Nativity ('And lo the star...') Leaf of Gold Menu for Miss Cranston's exhibition cafe, The White Cockade Perspective drawing of Glasgow School of Art from the north-west Design for a Glasgow School of Art Club 'Programme' Design for a Glasgow School of Art Club 'Programme' Dressing Table for Guthrie and Wells Washstand for Guthrie and Wells Linen Cupboard for John Henderson Linen Cupboard for Gladsmuir Bookcase for Gladsmuir Schoolroom bench for Gladsmuir Card table for Argyle Street Tea Rooms Domino table for Argyle Street Tea Rooms Armchair for Glasgow School of Art Chair for Ingram Street Tea Rooms Chair for Ingram Street Tea Rooms Chair for Ingram Street Tea Rooms Bedside table for Windyhill Armchair for Willow Tea Rooms Round table for Willow Tea Rooms Hat, coat and umbrella stand for the Room de Luxe, Willow Tea Rooms Low-backed armchair for the Director's Room, Glasgow School of Art Low-backed armchair for the Director's Room, Glasgow School of Art Square table for Hous'hill Low-backed armchair for Board Room, Glasgow School of Art Chair for Oak Room, Ingram Street Tea Rooms Barrel chair for Ingram Street Tea Rooms Chair for Ingram Street Tea Rooms Windsor chair for the Library, Glasgow School of Art Chair for Chinese Room, Ingram Street Tea Rooms Domino table for the Chinese Room, Ingram Street Tea Rooms Large armchair for the Dug-Out, Willow Tea Rooms Writing desk for Gladsmuir Blind Window, Certosa di Pavia The Harvest Moon The Descent of Night Cabbages in an Orchard Stylised Plant Form Autumn Tree The Tree of Personal Effort The Tree of Influence Winter The Shadow Roof of Napton Church, Norfolk Fairies
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Key Information

Reference code

MC

Title

Mackintosh Art, Design and Architecture Collection

Date(s)

  • c1891-2018 (Creation)

Level of description

Collection

Extent

478 Items

Content and Structure

Scope and content

Items in The Glasgow School of Art's Mackintosh collection include: furniture, watercolours, drawings, architectural drawings, design drawings, sketchbooks, metalwork and photographs.

The majority of Mackintosh's three-dimensional work was created with the help of a small number of patrons within a short period of intense activity between 1896 and 1910. Francis Newbery was headmaster of The Glasgow School of Art at the time and was supportive of Mackintosh's ultimately successful bid to design a new art school building, in 1896 - his most prestigious undertaking. For Miss Kate Cranston he designed a series of Glasgow tearoom interiors and for the businessmen William Davidson and Walter Blackie, he was commissioned to design large private houses, 'Windyhill' in Kilmacolm and 'The Hill House' in Helensburgh. In Europe, the originality of Mackintosh's style was quickly appreciated and in 1900 he was invited to participate at the 8th Vienna Secession.

In 1902 Mackintosh was invited to participate at the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative Art in Turin and later at exhibitions in Moscow and Berlin. Despite this success Mackintosh's work met with considerable indifference at home. Few private clients were sufficiently sympathetic to want his 'total design' of house and interior and he was incapable of compromise.

By 1914 Mackintosh had despaired of ever receiving true recognition in Glasgow and together with his wife Margaret Macdonald he moved, temporarily, to Walberswick on the Suffolk Coastline (in England), where he painted many fine flower studies in watercolour. In 1915 the Mackintoshes settled in London and for the next few years Mackintosh attempted to resume practice as an architect and designer. The designs he produced at this time for textiles, for the 'Dug-out' Tea Room in Glasgow and the dramatic interiors for 78 Derngate in Northampton, England show him working in a bold new style of decoration, using primary colours and geometric motifs.

In 1923 the Mackintoshes left London for the South of France, finally living in Port Vendres where Mackintosh gave up all thoughts of architecture and design and devoted himself entirely to painting landscapes. He died in London, of cancer, on 10 December 1928.

The majority of Mackintosh's design work, (including furniture and metalwork), architectural drawings, textile designs and watercolours are in the possession of three public collections - The Glasgow School of Art, Glasgow Museums, and the Hunterian Art Gallery at the University of Glasgow - although significant (individual) pieces can be found in museums across the UK and Europe, North America and Japan. However, some of Mackintosh's most important, symbolist watercolours from the early to mid-1890s are to be found in the collection of The Glasgow School of Art.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling

Accruals

System of arrangement

General Information

Name of creator

(1868-1928)

Biographical history

By the end of the 19th century Glasgow School of Art was one of the leading art academies in Europe and after early success in the fine arts, the late 1890s saw Glasgow’s reputation in architecture and the decorative arts reach an all time high. At the very heart of this success was a talented young architect and designer, Charles Rennie Mackintosh whose reputation was to quickly spread beyond his native city and who, over a century later, is still regarded as the father of Glasgow Style.

Born in Glasgow on 7 June 1868, Mackintosh was apprenticed to a local architect John Hutchison, but in 1889 he transferred to the larger, more established city practice of Honeyman and Keppie. To complement his architectural apprenticeship, Mackintosh enrolled for evening classes at the Glasgow School of Art where he pursued various drawing programmes. Here under the watchful eye of the headmaster Francis Newbery, his talents flourished and in the School’s library he was able to consult the latest architecture and design journals becoming increasingly aware of his contemporaries both at home and abroad. He won numerous student prizes and competitions including the prestigious Alexander Thomson Travelling Studentship in 1890 that allowed him to undertake an architectural tour of Italy.

Back in Glasgow, Mackintosh’s projects for Honeyman and Keppie during the early 1890s displayed an increased maturity. His design for the Glasgow Herald Building (1894) incorporated some cutting-edge technology including a hydro-pneumatic lift and fire-resistant diatomite concrete flooring. Later at Martyr’s Public School (1895), despite a somewhat restricted brief, he was able to introduce some elaborate but controlled detailing including the central roof trusses.

At a public lecture on architecture in 1893, Mackintosh argued that architects and designers be given greater artistic freedom and independence. He himself began to experiment with a range of decorative forms, producing designs for furniture, metalwork and the graphic arts (including highly stylised posters and watercolours), often in partnership with his friend and colleague at Honeyman and Keppie, Herbert MacNair and two fellow students, Margaret and Frances Macdonald.

In 1896 Mackintosh gained his most substantial commission, to design a new building for the Glasgow School of Art. This was to be his masterwork. Significantly, the building was constructed in two distinct phases, 1897-99 and 1907-09, due to a lack of money. Stylistically, the substantial delay in completion offered Mackintosh the opportunity to amend and fully integrate his original design (of 1896) which owed much to Scotland’s earlier baronial tradition with a second half to the building that looked very much to the 20th century through its use of materials and technology. Most dramatic of all the interiors was the new Library (completed in 1909), which was a complex space of timber posts and beams. Its construction owed much to traditional Japanese domestic interiors but ultimately the building was an eclectic mix of styles and influences.

In Europe the originality of Mackintosh’s style was quickly appreciated and in Germany, and particularly in Austria, he received the acclaim and recognition for his designs that he was never truly to gain at home. He contributed to the 8th Vienna Secession and participated in international exhibitions in Turin, Moscow and elsewhere. He entered an open competition to design ‘A House for an Art Lover’, put forward by a German design journal, Zeitschrift fur Innendekoration, in 1900. Although he failed to win the competition, his architectural designs were judged to be of such a high standard that they were later reproduced as a portfolio of prints.

Back in Scotland at The Hill House in Helensburgh (1904), the publisher Walter Blackie commissioned Mackintosh to design a substantial family home. In its appearance, it owed much to his House for an Art Lover designs and an earlier completed domestic commission, Windyhill (1900). Externally, The Hill House was notable for its simple and solid massed forms with little ornamentation, yet internally the rooms exuded light and space, and the use of colour and decoration was carefully conceived.

Throughout his career Mackintosh relied on just a handful of patrons and supporters. The Glasgow businesswoman Catherine Cranston proved to be one of his most influential and her series of tearoom interiors (designed and furnished between 1896-1917) provided him with a virtual freedom to experiment. Responsible for their ‘total design’ Mackintosh provided the tearooms with furniture (including the dramatic high-back chairs), light fittings, wall decorations and even the cutlery.

Despite success in Europe and the support of clients such as Blackie and Cranston, Mackintosh’s work met with considerable indifference at home and his career soon declined. Few private clients were sufficiently sympathetic to want his ‘total design’ of house and interior. He entered the competition to design a cathedral for the City of Liverpool (1902) but although his design showed a Gothic quality as requested, his entry was rejected and his design for Scotland Street School (1906) in Glasgow was to be his last public commission.

By 1914 Mackintosh had despaired of ever receiving the level of recognition in Glasgow that he felt he deserved. He became increasingly obstinate and incapable of compromise and it is known that this exerted unnecessary pressures on his colleagues. In an attempt to resurrect his career, Mackintosh resigned from the practice and with his wife Margaret Macdonald moved to London.

This was unfortunate timing, for with the onset of the First World War all building work was severely restricted. Adventurous plans for a suite of artists’ studios and a theatre were never built. However, after making adjustments to the exterior of a mid-terraced house at 78 Derngate in Northampton (1916), the client W J Bassett-Lowke commissioned Mackintosh to redecorate a number of the building’s interiors including the Guests’ Bedroom (1919). These designs show him working in a bold new style of decoration and construction, using primary colours and geometric motifs. It was an output of extraordinary vitality and originality but it went virtually unheeded.

A move to the South of France in 1923 signalled the end of Mackintosh’s three-dimensional career and the last years of his life were spent painting. He died in London on 10 December 1928.

Name of creator

(1864-1933)

Biographical history

Margaret Macdonald was one of the most gifted and successful women artists in Scotland at the turn of the century. Her output was wide-ranging and included watercolours, graphics, metalwork and textiles. Arguably her greatest achievements were in gesso, a plaster-based medium, which she used to make decorative panels for furniture and interiors. Macdonald was born in England and came to Glasgow with her family around 1890. She enrolled as a day student at Glasgow School of Art where she met Mackintosh and Herbert McNair. She left the School in the mid 1890s and set up an independent studio in the city with her sister, Frances. Margaret Macdonald The sisters worked together until Frances’s marriage and departure for Liverpool in 1899. Mackintosh and Macdonald married in 1900. Collaboration was key to Margaret Macdonald’s creativity. The partnership with her sister in the 1890s produced metalwork, graphics, and a series of book illustrations. Her collaboration with Mackintosh comprised primarily the production of panels for interiors and furniture, notably for the tea rooms and The Hill House. The precise nature of their partnership is difficult to define, because little documentation survives. However it is certain that Macdonald played an important role in the development of the decorative, symbolic interiors of the early 1900s, including the House for an Art Lover portfolio, the Rose Boudoir, Turin and the Willow Tea Rooms. Ill health and the strain of Mackintosh’s declining career contributed to a decline in her own output and no work after 1921 is known. Macdonald died in London in 1933, five years after her husband.

Name of creator

(1874-1921)

Biographical history

Frances Macdonald’s achievements are less well known than those of her sister, Margaret Macdonald. In part this is due to the loss of much of her work, destroyed by her husband, Herbert McNair, after her death, and in part to the fact that she left Glasgow in 1899. Nonetheless she produced some of the most powerful imagery of the Glasgow Style, and her late symbolist watercolours are moving meditations on the choices facing women. Frances was born in England and moved to Glasgow with her family by 1890. She enrolled as a student at Glasgow School of Art where she met Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Herbert McNair. In the mid 1890s Frances left the School and set up an independent studio in the city centre with her sister, Margaret Macdonald. Together they collaborated on metalwork, graphics, textile designs and book illustrations, exhibiting in London, Liverpool and Venice. Following her marriage in 1899 to Herbert McNair she joined him in Liverpool where McNair was by then teaching at the School of Architecture and Applied Art. The couple designed the interiors of their home at 54 Oxford Street and exhibited a Writing Room at the International Exhibition of Modern Art, Turin. Macdonald also started teaching, and developed skills in jewellery, enamelwork and embroidery. The closure of the School in the early 1900s led to a gradual decline in their careers, compounded by the loss of the McNair family wealth through business failures. The couple returned to Glasgow around 1909. It was in the following years that Macdonald painted a moving series of symbolist watercolours addressing themes related to marriage and motherhood. She died in Glasgow in 1921. For further information consult ed. Jude Burkhauser, ‘Glasgow Girls’, Canongate Press, 1990 and Janice Helland, ‘The Studios of Frances Macdonald and Margaret Macdonald’, Manchester University Press, 1995. An exhibition of the McNairs’ work was held at the Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow, in the summer of 2006, subsequently touring to the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool from January to April 2007.

Name of creator

(1868-1955)

Biographical history

Scottish-born Herbert McNair was a highly individual designer and talented teacher. He made an important contribution in the early 1890s to the development of Mackintosh’s creative imagination, and his paintings and furniture designs were among some of the most most individual of the Glasgow Style of the 1890s. The promise of his early career was not fulfilled however, largely because of external factors, and no work after 1911 is known. McNair trained as an architect with Honeyman and Keppie, Glasgow from 1888 to 1895, where he met Mackintosh. He subsequently set up an independent studio as an artist and designer in the city centre – he never practised architecture. McNair had early success with a one-man show of his pastels in London in 1898 and his appointment that year as a lecturer at the School of Architecture and Applied Art, University College, Liverpool. Frances Macdonald and he married the following year, and their only child, Sylvan, was born in 1900. The couple exhibited work in Vienna (1900), Turin (1902) and Dresden (1903), as well as regularly exhibiting watercolours in Liverpool and London in the early 1900s. Difficulties arose with the closure of the School in 1905. McNair and a colleague set up an alternative school but this experiment was short-lived. Combined with these setbacks, the family wealth had been dissipated through poor business management. McNair and his family returned to Glasgow in straitened circumstances. A final but unsuccessful attempt to re-establish a career appears to have been made with an exhibition of the McNairs’ work at the Baillie Gallery, London. No work by McNair after that date is known. Following Frances Macdonald’s death in 1921, he destroyed much of her work, and subsequently lived in Argyllshire where he died in 1955. Other examples of his work are held by the Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow, and the Walker Art Gallery, National Museums Liverpool. There is little published information currently available, except for an early article by Roger Billcliffe in the Walker Art Gallery Annual Bulletin, 1970-1. An exhibition of the McNairs’ work was held at the Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow, in the summer of 2006, subsequently touring to the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool from January to April 2007.

Archival history

Custodial history

Glasgow School of Art; Charles Rennie Mackintosh; Keppie, Henderson and Partners, Glasgow; Daly's Restaurant, Glasgow; William Davidson; William Meldrum; James Meldrum; Katherine Cameron (Mrs Katherine Kay); Andrew Graham Henderson; Jessie Keppie; Sir John Stirling Maxwell; Prof. William J Smith.

Two keys areas to the collection are the three sets of architectural drawings (relating to the Glasgow School of Art itself) and an important selection of early (1890s) symbolist watercolours. The GSA architectural drawings were presented to the School by the building's original architects, Keppie Henderson and Partners (formerly Honeyman, Keppie and Mackintosh). In 1949 Mrs Katherine Kay (sister of Glasgow artist D Y Cameron) presented the School with a series of important Mackintosh watercolours, some bound in a four-volume publication known as The GSA Magazine.

Physical Description and Conditions of Use

Conditions governing access

Glasgow School of Art Archives and Collections are open for research by appointment. For further details, please refer to our Access Policy @ https://gsaarchives.com/policies

Conditions governing reproduction

Application for permission to reproduce should be submitted to The Archives and Collections at The Glasgow School of Art.

Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of material.

For further details, please refer to our Reprographic Service Guide @ https://gsaarchives.com/policies

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical Description

Textiles, watercolours, graphic work, architectural plans, drawings, furniture, sketchbooks, metalwork, photographs.

Finding aids

Related Material

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related materials

Further Reading:

  • Roger Billcliffe, "Charles Rennie Mackintosh: The Complete Furniture, Furniture Drawings and Interior Designs" Cameron and Hollis, 2010
  • Roger Billcliffe, "Mackintosh Watercolours" John Murray, 1992
  • Pamela Robertson, "Art is the Flower", Pavilion, 1995.
  • Buchanan, William, editor, Mackintosh’s Masterwork: The Glasgow School of Art, Glasgow: Richard Drew Publishing, and San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1989
  • Crawford, Alan, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, London: Thames and Hudson, 1995
  • Kaplan, Wendy, editor, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Glasgow: Glasgow Museums, and New York: Abbeyville Press, 1996
  • Macaulay, James, Glasgow School of Art: Charles Rennie Mackintosh, London: Phaidon Press, 1993
  • Macaulay, James, The Hill House: Charles Rennie Mackintosh, London: Phaidon Press, 1994
  • Robertson, Pamela, editor, Charles Rennie Mackintosh: The Architectural Papers, Wendlebury, England: White Cockade Publishing, 1990
  • Robertson, Pamela, Charles Rennie Mackintosh: The Architectural Sketches, Glasgow: Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow, 2000

Information about related materials is available at: http://www.crmsociety.com/

Related descriptions

Notes area

Note

Collection Historical Note

Associated places: The Glasgow School of Art, 1901 International Exhibition, Glasgow; Prospecthill House, Glasgow; The Dug-Out Tea Rooms, Glasgow; Napton Church, Suffolk, England; Liverpool Cathedral; The Hill House, Helensburgh, Scotland; Windyhill, Kilmacolm, Scotland; Worth Matravers, Dorset, England; Certosa di Pavia, Italy; Italy; Port Vendres, France; Fetges, France.

Alternative identifier(s)

Keywords/Tags

Place access points

People and Organisations

Genre access points

Administrative Information

Description identifier

GB 1694 MC

Institution identifier

GB 1694

Rules and/or conventions used

ISAD(G): General International Standard Archival Description - Second edition

Status

Level of detail

Processing information

  • Catalogue imported into Archon software and edited by Michelle Kaye, Archon Project Officer, April 2014.
  • Catalogue exported from Archon and imported into AtoM during system migration, 2018-2019.

Language(s)

  • English

Script(s)

Sources

Archivist's note

Finding Aid Authors: The Glasgow School of Art Archives and Collections.

Archivist's note

© Copyright 2014 GSA Archives. All rights reserved.

Accession area