Though Charles Rennie Mackintosh played a significant role in influencing the direction of European design during the early 1900s, the architect, furniture designer, and painter was relatively unrecognized in his homeland of Scotland.
Born in Glasgow in 1868, the son of a police superintendent, Mackintosh was apprenticed to the firm of John Hutchinson at the age of 16, and studied at night at the Glasgow School of Art. At school he and his friend and colleague Herbert MacNair met the Macdonald sisters, Margaret and Frances; Mackintosh would later marry Margaret. “The Four,” as they were known, collaborated on furniture, poster, and graphic design work and exhibited in Glasgow, London, Vienna, and Turin; their Glasgow Style became a recognized trend. Mackintosh’s underlying philosophy was that each design should represent a total work of art, with each detail carefully crafted and supporting the whole.
At the age of 21, Mackintosh joined the firm of Honeyman and Keppie as an architectural assistant and one year later won a traveling scholarship that allowed him to tour Italy, France, and Belgium before settling down to work. At 25 years of age, he created his first major architectural work, the Glasgow Herald building. He disregarded Greek and Roman styles as unsuitable for Scotland’s climate and needs, instead adapting the Scottish Baronial style to modern society. More designs followed, including the Glasgow School of Art (now known as the Mackintosh Building), Queen’s Cross Church, tearoom interiors for Miss Kate Cranston, and the private houses Windyhill and The Hill House. His designs were known for their elegance, clarity of spatial concepts, skillful use of natural and artificial lighting, and wonderful detailing.
In 1900, Mackintosh and Margaret Macdonald married. They continued their professional collaboration at home and abroad, successfully competing in Germany and at exhibitions in Vienna and Turin. They also designed the Warndorfer Music Salon in Vienna and the Exhibition Room in Moscow.
In 1904, at the age of 36, Mackintosh became a partner in Honeyman and Keppie, and until 1913 he worked on various commissions throughout central Scotland. He unsuccessfully tried to establish his own practice. In 1914, he and his wife moved to the Suffolk coastline, where Mackintosh painted wonderful flower studies in watercolor. The couple moved to London in 1915, where, until 1923, he designed fabrics, furniture, and book covers. This work displayed a bold new style of decoration; one using primary colors and geometric motifs, but England ignored it.
By 1923, Mackintosh gave up his work in architecture and he and Margaret moved to the south of France, where he turned his artistic attentions to landscape painting. He returned to London in 1927 for treatment of cancer; he died in 1928 at the age of 60. Margaret died five years later.<<< Back to Pomegranate's Mackintosh Gallery