Scottish architect and artist Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868 – 1928)
This master of architecture, furniture and decorative illustration produced most of his work in and around Glasgow, Scotland. However, his genius has now been appreciated around the globe; exemplified by a major exhibition of his work which toured the finest Art Galleries in the United States in 1996.
Mackintosh, together with his wife Margaret Macdonald (whom he met when they studied together at the Glasgow School Of Art), Margaret’s sister Frances and Henry McNair were collectively known as “The Four” and together formed the core of the designers who developed a progressive movement: “The Glasgow Style”. Mackintosh was undoubtedly a genius – way ahead of his time and pursuing his own path. His heyday ran from from the 1890s to the 1920s.
He drew inspiration from the Scottish traditions and also from nature itself and Japanese forms. He used light and space masterfully as is evidenced both in his buildings and his furniture.
Around 1900, Mackintosh suddenly found fame with the massive flowering of the Art Nouveau style through Europe and the USA. Early architectural works include The Lighthouse and The Martyr’s School; but it is the Glasgow School of Art which was to become his masterpiece.
At the same time, Kate Cranston engaged him to design tea room interiors for “The Willow Tearooms”. He designed every aspect – furniture, decoration, cutlery …. He also completed the Hill House in Helensburgh, The Daily Record Building in Glasgow and the discreet Windyhill detached suburban House in Kilmacolm.
Sadly, by 1910, The Art Nouveau movement was over; Charles Rennie Mackintosh was regarded as old fashioned and work began to dry up. Mackintosh suffered from depression and a disturbing pneumonia.
To retreat, Charles and Margaret moved to Suffolk and Rennie Mackintosh engaged himself in creating sublimely delicate and elegant botanical sketches and watercolours.
This was followed by a stay of around eight years in trendy Chelsea and the chance to convert industrialist W J Bassett-Lowke’s house at 78 Derngate, Northampton. The ultimate downfall of his career was perhaps due to his conviction the he must design every aspect of a commission – interior and exterior, despite the wishes of his patrons.
Though his talent was certainly appreciated in Austria and Germany, it is ironic that he died in London, un-recognised for the genius that he undoubtedly was – particularly by his native city of Glasgow.
The Hill House, Upper Colquhoun Street, Helensburgh G84 9AJ
Ruchill Church Hall, 15/17 Shakespeare Street, Glasgow G20 9PT
The Mackintosh House, Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow, Hillhead Street Glasgow G12 8QQ
The Glasgow Style Room, Art Gallery & Museum, Kelvingrove, Argyle Street, Glasgow G3 8AG
Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society, Queen’s Cross Church, 870 Garscube Road, Glasgow G20 7EL
The Willow Tea Rooms 217 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow G2 3EX
The Glasgow School Of Art, 167 Renfrew Street, Glasgow G3 6RQ
Martyr’s Public School Glasgow Museums, Parson Street, Glasgow G4 0PX
The Lighthouse, Glasgow 11 Mitchell Lane, Glasgow G1 3NU
The Daily Record Building, Glasgow 20-26 Renfield Lane, Glasgow G2 5AT
Scotland Street School Museum Glasgow Museums, 225 Scotland Street, Glasgow G5 8QB
House For An Art Lover, Bellahouston Park, 10 Dumbreck Road, Glasgow G41 5BW