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Charles Rennie Mackintosh

Charles Rennie Mackintosh

Overview
Charles Rennie Mackintosh (7 June 1868 – 10 December 1928) was a Scottish architect, designer, watercolourist and artist. He was a designer in the Arts and Crafts movement
Arts and Crafts movement
Arts and Crafts was an international design philosophy that originated in England and flourished between 1860 and 1910 , continuing its influence until the 1930s...

 and also the main representative of Art Nouveau
Art Nouveau
Art Nouveau is an international philosophy and style of art, architecture and applied art—especially the decorative arts—that were most popular during 1890–1910. The name "Art Nouveau" is French for "new art"...

 in the United Kingdom. He had a considerable influence on European design. He was born in Glasgow
Glasgow
Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and third most populous in the United Kingdom. The city is situated on the River Clyde in the country's west central lowlands...

 and he died in London.


Charles Rennie Mackintosh was born at 70 Parson Street, Glasgow on 7 June 1868 as the fourth out of eleven children and the second son to William McIntosh and Margaret McIntosh.
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Encyclopedia
Charles Rennie Mackintosh (7 June 1868 – 10 December 1928) was a Scottish architect, designer, watercolourist and artist. He was a designer in the Arts and Crafts movement
Arts and Crafts movement
Arts and Crafts was an international design philosophy that originated in England and flourished between 1860 and 1910 , continuing its influence until the 1930s...

 and also the main representative of Art Nouveau
Art Nouveau
Art Nouveau is an international philosophy and style of art, architecture and applied art—especially the decorative arts—that were most popular during 1890–1910. The name "Art Nouveau" is French for "new art"...

 in the United Kingdom. He had a considerable influence on European design. He was born in Glasgow
Glasgow
Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and third most populous in the United Kingdom. The city is situated on the River Clyde in the country's west central lowlands...

 and he died in London.

Life



Charles Rennie Mackintosh was born at 70 Parson Street, Glasgow on 7 June 1868 as the fourth out of eleven children and the second son to William McIntosh and Margaret McIntosh. The young Charles attended Reid's Public School and the Allan Glen's Institution. In 1890 Mackintosh was the second winner of the Alexander Thomson
Alexander Thomson
Alexander "Greek" Thomson was an eminent Scottish architect and architectural theorist who was a pioneer in sustainable building. Although his work was published in the architectural press of his day, it was little appreciated outwith Glasgow during his lifetime...

 Travelling Studentship, set up for the "furtherance of the study of ancient classic architecture, with special reference to the principles illustrated in Mr. Thomson’s works." Upon his return, he resumed with the Honeyman and Keppie architectural practice where he commenced his first grand architectural project, the Glasgow Herald Building, in 1899.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh met fellow artist Margaret MacDonald
Margaret MacDonald (artist)
Margaret MacDonald Mackintosh was a Scottish artist whose design work became one of the defining features of the "Glasgow Style" during the 1890s....

 at the Glasgow School of Art. Members of the collaborative group known as “The Four”, the two married in 1900. After several successful building designs, Mackintosh became a partner of Honeyman and Keppie in 1907 his last major architectural commission. When economic hardships were causing many architectural practices to close, he resigned from Honeyman and Keppie in 1913 and attempted to open his own practice.
Unable to sustain his office, Mackintosh and his wife took an extended holiday in Suffolk where he created many floral watercolours. Upon return a year later, the Mackintoshes moved to London where Charles continued to paint and create textile designs. In 1916, Mackintosh received a commission to redesign the home of W.J. Bassett-Lowke. This undertaking would be his last architectural and interior design project.

Due to financial hardship, the Mackintoshes moved in 1923 to Port-Vendres
Port-Vendres
Port-Vendres is a commune in the Pyrénées-Orientales department in southern France.A typical Mediterranean fishing port, situated near the Spanish border on the cote Vermeille in south west France, Port-Vendres is renowned for its numerous fish and sea food restaurants. You can watch the fishing...

, a Mediterranean coastal town in southern France with a warm climate that was a comparably cheaper location in which to live. During this peaceful phase of his life, Charles Rennie Mackintosh created a large portfolio of architecture and landscape watercolour paintings. The couple remained in France for two years, before being forced to return to London in 1927 due to illness.

That year, Charles Rennie Mackintosh was diagnosed with throat and tongue cancer. A brief recovery prompted him to leave the hospital and convalesce at home for a few months. Necessity resulted in Mackintosh being admitted to a nursing home where he died on 10 December 1928 at the age of 60. He is buried in Golders Green Crematorium in London.

Design influences


He lived most of his life in the city of Glasgow. Located on the banks of the River Clyde
River Clyde
The River Clyde is a major river in Scotland. It is the ninth longest river in the United Kingdom, and the third longest in Scotland. Flowing through the major city of Glasgow, it was an important river for shipbuilding and trade in the British Empire....

, during the Industrial Revolution
Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution was a period from the 18th to the 19th century where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times...

, the city had one of the greatest production centres of heavy engineering and shipbuilding in the world. As the city grew and prospered, a faster response to the high demand for consumer goods and arts was necessary. Industrialized, mass-produced items started to gain popularity. Along with the Industrial Revolution, Asian style and emerging modernist ideas also influenced Mackintosh's designs. When the Japanese isolationist regime softened, they opened themselves to globalization resulting in notable Japanese influence around the world. Glasgow’s link with the eastern country became particularly close with shipyards building at the River Clyde being exposed to Japanese navy and training engineers. Japanese design became more accessible and gained great popularity. In fact, it became so popular and so incessantly appropriated and reproduced by Western artists, that the Western World's fascination and preoccupation with Japanese art coined the new term, Japonism
Japonism
Japonism, or Japonisme, the original French term, was first used in 1872 by Jules Claretie in his book L'Art Francais en 1872 and by Philippe Burty in Japanisme III. La Renaissance Literaire et Artistique in the same year...

or Japonisme.

This style was admired by Mackintosh because of: its restraint and economy of means rather than ostentatious accumulation; its simple forms and natural materials rather than elaboration and artifice; the use of texture and light and shadow rather than pattern and ornament. In the old western style furniture was seen as ornament that displayed the wealth of its owner and the value of the piece was established according to the length of time spent creating it. In the Japanese arts furniture and design focused on the quality of the space, which was meant to evoke a calming and organic feeling to the interior.


At the same time a new philosophy concerned with creating functional and practical design was emerging throughout Europe: the so-called "modernist ideas". The main concept of the Modernist movement was to develop innovative ideas and new technology: design concerned with the present and the future, rather than with history and tradition. Heavy ornamentation and inherited styles were discarded. Even though Mackintosh became known as the ‘pioneer’ of the movement, his designs were far removed from the bleak utilitarianism of Modernism. His concern was to build around the needs of people: people seen, not as masses, but as individuals who needed not a machine for living in but a work of art. Mackintosh took his inspiration from his Scottish upbringing and blended them with the flourish of Art Nouveau and the simplicity of Japanese forms.

While working in architecture, Charles Rennie Mackintosh developed his own style: a contrast between strong right angles and floral-inspired decorative motifs with subtle curves, e.g. the Mackintosh Rose motif, along with some references to traditional Scottish architecture. The project that helped make his international reputation was the Glasgow School of Art
Glasgow School of Art
Glasgow School of Art is one of only two independent art schools in Scotland, situated in the Garnethill area of Glasgow.-History:It was founded in 1845 as the Glasgow Government School of Design. In 1853, it changed its name to The Glasgow School of Art. Initially it was located at 12 Ingram...

 (1897–1909). During the early stages of the Glasgow School of Art Mackintosh also completed the Queen’s Cross Church project in Maryhill, Glasgow. This is considered to be one of Charles Rennie Mackintosh most mysterious projects. It is the only church by the Glasgow born artist to be built and is now the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society headquarters.
Like his contemporary Frank Lloyd Wright
Frank Lloyd Wright
Frank Lloyd Wright was an American architect, interior designer, writer and educator, who designed more than 1,000 structures and completed 500 works. Wright believed in designing structures which were in harmony with humanity and its environment, a philosophy he called organic architecture...

, Mackintosh's architectural designs often included extensive specifications for the detailing, decoration, and furnishing of his buildings. The majority if not all of this detailing and significant contributions to his architectural drawings were designed and detailed by his wife Margaret Macdonald whom Charles had met when they both attended the Glasgow School of Art. His work was shown at the Vienna Secession
Vienna Secession
The Vienna Secession was formed in 1897 by a group of Austrian artists who had resigned from the Association of Austrian Artists, housed in the Vienna Künstlerhaus. This movement included painters, sculptors, and architects...

 Exhibition in 1900.
Mackintosh’s architectural career was a relatively short one, but of significant quality and impact. All his major commissions were between 1896 and 1906, where he designed private homes, commercial buildings, interior renovations and churches.




  • The Royal Highland Fusiliers
    Royal Highland Fusiliers
    The Royal Highland Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland is an infantry battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland....

     Regimental Museum, Glasgow
  • Former Daily Record
    Daily Record (Scotland)
    The Daily Record is a Scottish tabloid newspaper based in Glasgow. It had been the best-selling daily paper in Scotland for many years with a paid circulation in August 2011 of 307,794 . It is now outsold by its arch-rival the Scottish Sun which in September 2010 had a circulation of 339,586 in...

     offices, Glasgow
  • Former Glasgow Herald
    The Herald (Glasgow)
    The Herald is a broadsheet newspaper published Monday to Saturday in Glasgow, and available throughout Scotland. As of August 2011 it had an audited circulation of 47,226, giving it a lead over Scotland's other 'quality' national daily, The Scotsman, published in Edinburgh.The 1889 to 1906 editions...

     offices in Mitchell Street, now The Lighthouse
    The Lighthouse (Glasgow)
    The Lighthouse in Glasgow, is Scotland's Centre for Architecture, Design and the City. It was opened as part of Glasgow's status as UK City of Architecture and Design in 1999....

     – Scotland's Centre for Architecture, Design and the City
  • 78 Derngate, Northampton
    78 Derngate
    78 Derngate is a Grade II* listed Georgian house in the Derngate area of Northampton, England, originally built in the 1820s. It's noted for its interior, which was extensively remodelled in 1916 and 1917 by noted architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh for businessman Wenman Joseph Bassett-Lowke as...

     (interior design and architectural remodelling for Wenman Joseph Bassett-Lowke, founder of Bassett-Lowke
    Bassett-Lowke
    Bassett-Lowke was a toy company in Northampton, England, founded by Wenman Joseph Bassett-Lowke in 1898 or 1899, that specialized in model railways, boats and ships, and construction sets...

    )
  • 5 The Drive, Northampton (for Bassett-Lowke's brother-in-law)

Unbuilt designs


Although moderately popular (for a period) in his native Scotland, most of his more ambitious designs were not built. His designs of various buildings for the 1901 Glasgow International Exhibition
Glasgow International Exhibition (1901)
The Glasgow International Exhibition was the second of 4 international exhibitions held in Glasgow, Scotland during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.-Summary:...

 were not constructed, neither was his "Haus eines Kunstfreundes" (Art Lover's House
House for an Art Lover
The House for an Art Lover is based on a design produced in 1901 by Charles Rennie Mackintosh with his wife, Margaret MacDonald. The building is situated in Bellahouston Park in Glasgow, Scotland. Construction began in 1989 and the house was finally opened to the public in 1996...

) of the same year. He competed in the 1903 design competition for Liverpool Cathedral
Liverpool Cathedral
Liverpool Cathedral is the Church of England cathedral of the Diocese of Liverpool, built on St James's Mount in Liverpool and is the seat of the Bishop of Liverpool. Its official name is the Cathedral Church of Christ in Liverpool but it is dedicated to Christ and the Blessed Virgin...

, but failed to gain a place on the shortlist (the winner was Giles Gilbert Scott
Giles Gilbert Scott
Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, OM, FRIBA was an English architect known for his work on such buildings as Liverpool Cathedral and Battersea Power Station and designing the iconic red telephone box....

).

The House for An Art Lover was built after his death (1989–1996). Mackintosh left many unbuilt designs:
  • Railway Terminus,
  • Concert Hall,
  • Alternative Concert Hall,
  • Bar and Dining Room,
  • Exhibition Hall
  • Science and Art Museum
  • Chapter House
  • Liverpool Cathedral
    Liverpool Cathedral
    Liverpool Cathedral is the Church of England cathedral of the Diocese of Liverpool, built on St James's Mount in Liverpool and is the seat of the Bishop of Liverpool. Its official name is the Cathedral Church of Christ in Liverpool but it is dedicated to Christ and the Blessed Virgin...

     – Anglican Cathedral competition entry


Although Mackintosh's architectural output was fairly small he had a considerable influence on European design. Especially popular in Austria and Germany, Mackintosh's work was highly acclaimed when it was shown at the Vienna Secession
Vienna Secession
The Vienna Secession was formed in 1897 by a group of Austrian artists who had resigned from the Association of Austrian Artists, housed in the Vienna Künstlerhaus. This movement included painters, sculptors, and architects...

 Exhibition in 1900. It was also exhibited in Budapest, Munich, Dresden, Venice and Moscow.

Design work and paintings



The Four


Charles Rennie Mackintosh attended evening classes in art at the Glasgow School of Art. It was at these classes that he first met his future wife Margaret MacDonald
Margaret MacDonald (artist)
Margaret MacDonald Mackintosh was a Scottish artist whose design work became one of the defining features of the "Glasgow Style" during the 1890s....

, her sister Frances MacDonald
Frances MacDonald
Frances MacDonald was a Scottish artist whose design work was a prominent feature of the "Glasgow Style" during the 1890s.The sister of better known artist Margaret MacDonald, she was born near at Tipton, near Wolverhampton, and moved to Glasgow with her family in 1890...

, and Herbert MacNair
Herbert MacNair
James Herbert MacNair , was a Scottish artist, designer and teacher whose work contributed to the development of the "Glasgow Style" during the 1890s....

 who was also a fellow apprentice with Mackintosh at Honeyman and Keppie. MacNair and Frances would also marry. These close companions would later be known as the collaborative group “The Four”, prominent members of the "Glasgow School
Glasgow School
The Glasgow School was a circle of influential modern artists and designers who began to coalesce in Glasgow, Scotland in the 1870s, and flourished from the 1890s to sometime around 1910. Representative groups were: The Four , the Glasgow Girls and the Glasgow Boys...

" movement.

This group of artists exhibited in Glasgow, London and Vienna, and these exhibitions helped establish Mackintosh's reputation. The so-called "Glasgow" style was exhibited in Europe and influenced the Viennese Art Nouveau movement known as Sezessionstil (in English, The Secession) around 1900. Mackintosh also worked in interior design, furniture, textiles and metalwork. Much of this work combines Mackintosh's own designs with those of his wife, whose flowing, floral style complemented his more formal, rectilinear work.

Later in life, disillusioned with architecture, Mackintosh worked largely as a watercolourist, painting numerous landscapes and flower studies (often in collaboration with Margaret, with whose style Mackintosh's own gradually converged) in the Suffolk village of Walberswick (to which the pair moved in 1914), where he was briefly arrested as amid accusations of being a German spy in 1915. By 1923, he had entirely abandoned architecture and design and moved to the south of France with Margaret where he concentrated on watercolour painting. He was interested in the relationships between man-made and naturally occurring landscapes. Many of his paintings depict Port Vendres, a small port near the Spanish border, and the nearby landscapes.

Retrospect



Mackintosh's designs gained in popularity in the decades following his death. His House for an Art Lover
House for an Art Lover
The House for an Art Lover is based on a design produced in 1901 by Charles Rennie Mackintosh with his wife, Margaret MacDonald. The building is situated in Bellahouston Park in Glasgow, Scotland. Construction began in 1989 and the house was finally opened to the public in 1996...

 was finally built in Glasgow's Bellahouston Park in 1996, and the University of Glasgow
University of Glasgow
The University of Glasgow is the fourth-oldest university in the English-speaking world and one of Scotland's four ancient universities. Located in Glasgow, the university was founded in 1451 and is presently one of seventeen British higher education institutions ranked amongst the top 100 of the...

 (which owns the majority of his watercolour work) rebuilt the interiors of a terraced house Mackintosh had designed, and furnished it with his and Margaret's work (it is part of the University's Hunterian Museum
Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery
The University of Glasgow's Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery is the oldest public museum in Scotland. It is located in various buildings on the main campus of the University in the west end of Glasgow.-History:...

). The Glasgow School of Art
Glasgow School of Art
Glasgow School of Art is one of only two independent art schools in Scotland, situated in the Garnethill area of Glasgow.-History:It was founded in 1845 as the Glasgow Government School of Design. In 1853, it changed its name to The Glasgow School of Art. Initially it was located at 12 Ingram...

 building (now renamed "The Mackintosh Building") is regularly cited by architectural critics as among the very finest buildings in the UK. The Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society tries to encourage a greater awareness of the work of Mackintosh as an important architect, artist and designer. The rediscovery of Mackintosh as a significant figure in design is attributed by some to the designation of Glasgow as European City of Culture in 1990, and the exhibition of his work which accompanied the year-long festival. His enduring popularity since then has been fuelled by further exhibitions and the many books and other memorabilia which have illustrated various aspects of his life and work. This revival of public interest in Mackintosh has, in turn, led to the refurbishing and opening of further buildings to the public, such as the Willow Tea Rooms, Glasgow and Derngate, Northampton.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is a renowned art museum in New York City. Its permanent collection contains more than two million works, divided into nineteen curatorial departments. The main building, located on the eastern edge of Central Park along Manhattan's Museum Mile, is one of the...

 in New York City held a major retrospective exhibition of Charles Rennie Mackintosh's works from 21 November 1996 to 16 February 1997. In conjunction with that exhibit, there were lectures and a symposium by major scholars, including Pamela Robertson of the Hunterian Art Gallery, Glasgow art gallery owner Roger Billcliffe, and architect J. Stewart Johnson, and screening of documentary films about Mackintosh.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh was to be commemorated on a new series of banknotes issued by the Clydesdale Bank
Clydesdale Bank
Clydesdale Bank is a commercial bank in Scotland, a subsidiary of the National Australia Bank Group. In Scotland, Clydesdale Bank is the third largest clearing bank, although it also retains a branch network in London and the north of England...

in 2009; his image appeared on the new issue of £100 notes.

Further reading

  • David Stark Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Co. 1854 to 2004 (2004) ISBN 1-84033-323-5
  • Tamsin Pickeral; Mackintosh Flame Tree Publishing London 2005 ISBN 1-84451-258-4
  • Alan Crawford Charles Rennie Mackintosh (Thames & Hudson)
  • John McKean Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Architect, Artist, Icon (Lomond, 2000 second edition 2001) ISBN 0947782087
  • David Brett Charles Rennie Mackintosh: The Poetics of Workmanship (1992)
  • Timothy Neat Part Seen Part Imagined (1994)
  • John McKean Charles Rennie Mackintosh Pocket Guide (Colin Baxter, 1998 and updated editions to 2010)
  • ed. Wendy Kaplan Charles Rennie Mackintosh (Abbeville Press 1996)
  • John McKean, "Glasgow: from 'Universal' to 'Regionalist' City and beyond - from Thomson to Mackintosh", in Sources of Regionalism in 19th Century Architecture, Art and Literature, ed. van Santvoort, Verschaffel and De Meyer, (Leuven, 2008)
  • Fanny Blake" Essential Charles Rennie Macintosh

External links