Heritage and Culture

Charles Rennie Mackintosh - what you need to know

Charles Rennie Mackintosh - what you need to know
By Sophie

Charles Rennie Mackintosh was a Scottish architect, designer and artist who is celebrated worldwide. He was born in 1868, in Glasgow, where a lot of his most important and significant work is still held.

Mackintosh began his journey by apprenticing for a local architect, John Hutchison. By 1889 he had moved on to Honeyman and Keppie, which was a larger and more established city practice. He also took some evening classes at the Glasgow School of Art, where he developed his talents in drawing. He used the School Library to look at architecture and design journals, which gave him a knowledge of current trends - both at home and world wide.

As Mackintosh's design and architecture abilities matured, in 1894, he became involved in designing the Glasgow Herald Building. Used to being under a restricted brief, Mackintosh began campaigning for architects and designers to have more artistic freedom. Meanwhile, he experimented with a range of decorative forms and produced designs for furniture, metalwork and the graphic arts.

In 1896, Mackintosh gained commission to design a new building for the Glasgow School of Art. This piece was to be his masterwork.

Glasgow School of Art exterior

Glasgow School of Art Library Interior

The building was constructed in two separate, distinct phases, due to a lack of money. The first in 1897-99 and the second in 1907-09. As there was a gap between the two phases, it gave Mackintosh time to adjust and amend his original design. This meant that there was a difference in style between the two constructions.

By this point, Mackintosh's work was greatly appreciated in Europe, especially in Germany and Austria. The originality of his style stood out and he gained recognition world wide. He went on to participate in international exhibitions, as well as gaining a commission from the publisher, Walter Blackie, back home, to design a family home.

Walter Blackie family home exterior, Glasgow, designed by Mackintosh

Walter Blackie family home interior

Throughout his career, Mackintosh relied on a handful of supporters, who allowed him complete artistic freedom. His public commission for the Scotland Street School in Glasgow, in 1906, was to be his last.

In 1923 Mackintosh moved to the South of France, which signified the end of his career. He spent the last few years of his life painting. He died on the 10 December 1928, in London.

Here are just a few of Mackintosh's architectural masterpieces:

The Willow Tearooms, designed in 1904, Glasgow

The Wassail, a Gesso Wall Panel was also designed by Mackintosh for the 'Ladies' Luncheon Room' at Miss Cranston's Ingram Street Tearooms.