Charles Rennie Mackintosh:

Largely under-rated in his homeland during his lifetime, Charles Rennie Mackintosh was an architect, designer and painter who influenced European design, particularly in Austria and Germany, in the early 1900s. Recently he has achieved the recognition his work deserves, both in Scotland, and worldwide.

His ethos was that each building should be a total work of art, with each carefully contrived detail contributing to the whole. Thus many of his designs are for interiors and furniture.

The son of a police superintendent, Charles Rennie Mackintosh was born in Glasgow in June 1868. At the age of sixteen he was apprenticed to the firm of John Hutchison, and studied at Glasgow School of Art in the evenings. Whilst still attending the School of Art, Mackintosh won several prizes.

In 1889 he joined Honeyman and Keppie as an architectural assistant. The following year Mackintosh won a travelling scholarship, and toured Italy, France and Belgium, before settling into his work.

Whilst at Glasgow School of Art he met Margaret Macdonald, herself a talented designer, who he would later marry. Together with her sister, Frances and Herbert McNair, they were known as "The Four", and exhibited their designs in Glasgow, London, Vienna and Turin. The "Glasgow Style" became a recognised trend.

In 1893, Mackintosh designed his first major work, the Glasgow Herald building - The Lighthouse. This building has recently been turned into a museum and features some of his work. Over the next few years he designed several buildings including Glasgow School of Art and Queen's Cross Church, now home to The Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society.

In 1900 Margaret Macdonald and Mackintosh were married and they continued to work together, both in Scotland and abroad. They found success in competitions in Germany and at exhibitions in Vienna and Turin. Together they designed the Warndorfer Music Salon in Vienna and the Exhibition Room in Moscow. Margaret's contribution to Mackintosh's work should never be underestimated.

The early 1900s were a very productive time for the Mackintoshes. During this period designs were produced for House for an Art Lover (built recently in Glasgow's Bellahouston Park), The Hill House in Helensburgh, Scotland Street School and the Willow Tea Rooms in Sauchiehall Street, both in Glasgow.

In 1904, Charles became a partner in Honeyman and Keppie, and over the next nine years worked on various commissions throughout Central Scotland. His work took him to places such as Comrie, Lennoxtown, Bowling, Bridge of Allan, Kilmacolm and Dumgoyne.

In 1914 the Mackintoshes moved to Walberswick in Suffolk and then onto London in the following year. During the next nine years, he undertook commissions for fabrics, furniture and book covers. It was during this period, in 1916, that Mackintosh designed the interior of the house at 78 Derngate, Northampton.

From 1923-27, they lived in Port Vendres in the South of France, where Mackintosh concentrated on landscape painting. He returned to London for cancer treatment in 1927 and died the following year. Margaret died in 1933.


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