Charles Rennie Mackintosh

school of art
Glasgow School of Art

On a recent trip to Glasgow I was highly impressed by the work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928), architect, designer and artist. He was highly modern and renewing for his time, which probably explains his lack of recognition then. Mackintosh was partly inspired by Art Nouveau, but he incorporated various other styles, like Japanese art, Scottish traditions and medieval influences. Together with some close collaborators he was part of a group called “The Four”, and an artistic style known as The Glasgow Style. His wife Margaret Macdonald was also a highly acclaimed artist. Mackintosh was very attached to Glasgow and Scotland. Most of his surviving work can be found in or around Glasgow.

Mackintosh and one of his typical chairs

The best example of his work is the Glasgow School of Art. In 1896 Mackintosh, who hardly had any architectural background, won the competion for a new building with his design. It was built in two phases, and was only completed in 1927. Today the building is still in use as a lively art school! A guided tour inside is recommended, because the many original details and elements of Mackintosh’ work are highly impressive. The school can be considered a ‘total design’, because Mackintosh also designed large parts of the interior. Perhaps the best example is the library.

tea room
The Willow Tea Room

Other well-known examples of his work in Glasgow are the series of tearooms he designed for Kate Cranston, including the Willow Tea Rooms. Two tearooms have been recreated in original style recently, containing Mackintosh’ recognizable furniture. You can drink an expensive cup of tea with scone there again. It is also nice to visit the Mackintosh House, part of the Hunterian Art Gallery. The uniqueinteriors of the house were Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his wife lived from 1906-1914 have been meticulously reassembled here.
Visit the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society for more information about his work.

Leaded Glass Panel, detail from 'WindyHill' Bookcase, 1901