- MACKINTOSH, Charles Rennie
- (1868-1928)One of the leaders of the Arts and Crafts Movement, Charles Rennie Mackintosh was instrumental in introducing modernism into Scotland. After attending the Glasgow School of Art in the 1880s, Mackintosh won a scholarship in 1890 to travel to Italy. His subsequent early work, such as the Glasgow Herald Building from 1893 to 1895, reveals a modernist approach to historical architecture. This brick building was designed by Mackintosh while working at the firm Honeyman and Keppie; its upper register, including the tower and decorative crenellations, recalls early Italian Renaissance palaces in Florence and Siena, while its lower register is sparer and conforms to the newer industrial designs of early modern architecture.Mackintosh had remained friends with three other students from the time of his enrollment at the School of Art—Herbert McNair and the sisters Margaret and Frances Macdonald—and the four exhibited their graphic arts, furniture, and decorative arts in London, Turin, and Vienna. Through this collaborative work and his introduction to the Viennese Secession, Mackintosh developed his own version of the related Arts and Crafts style. Mackintosh's most important commission, the Glasgow School of Art, was begun in 1897 and reveals his mature style. This building was constructed in two phases. Initially, the center and east wing were built, and the west wing was added from 1907 to 1909. The rich stone façade reveals large studio windows and an offset entrance that is formally related to the east wing of the building. The entrance is arrived at via a gently curved stair topped by an iron bar that forms a slight arch, while the balcony and its paired windows found above the main entrance marks the location of the principal's office. The library was built in the west wing and features a two-story interior made of rich, dark wood illuminated by the second-story oriel windows. Creating a play between spare geometric designs and a lightly handed curved decoration, Mackintosh brilliantly combines the look of industrial uniformity with a hand-crafted design to create one of the most beautiful library interiors in architectural history. His design for Hill House in Helensburgh, Scotland, in 1902, also combined his interests in architecture and interior design into an elegantly restrained domestic structure. That same year, Mackintosh designed the interiors for the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative Art in Turin, and through the next decade he remained busy in Glasgow with designing a series of tearooms. In 1915, Mackintosh left Glasgow to establish an architectural firm in London, but had little success there aside from various commissions for textile designs and furnishings. He moved to southern France in 1923 to focus the rest of his career on watercolor painting.
Historical Dictionaries of Literature and the Arts. Allison Lee Palmer. 2008.