MacKINTOSH, Charles Rennie

1868 - 1928

Charles Rennie MackIntosh

Charles Rennie MacKintosh, was born at 70 Parson Street, Glasgow on 7 June 1868, the fourth of the eleven children of William McIntosh (c.1837–1908), a clerk in the Glasgow police force, and his first wife, Margaret née Rennie (c.1837–1885). Educated at Reid's Public School and Allan Glen's Institution, both in Glasgow 1875-1884, then an articled pupil in the office of local architect, John Hutchison 1884-1889, followed by work as a draughtsman with Honeyman & Keppie of Glasgow, where he remained for most of his architectural career. While training as an architect, Mackintosh also attended Glasgow School of Art 1883-1894, working closely with sisters Margaret and Frances MacDonald (1873-1921), painting complex watercolours and designing posters and works of decorative art. In 1896 a competition was held for the design of a new building for Glasgow School of Art, to be built in the centre of the city and Honeyman & Keppie won the competition with a design by Mackintosh. In 1897 he designed stencilled decorations for Miss Cranston's, Buchanan Street tea-rooms and in 1898 furniture for her Argyle Street tea-rooms. It was work such as this which first brought Mackintosh to the notice of the public, his architectural work was done in the name of Honeyman and Keppie but in 1897 the 'The Studio' art magazine published two articles by Gleeson White on Mackintosh on his designs. On 22 August 1900 Mackintosh married at the episcopal church at Dumbarton, Margaret Macdonald and moved to an apartment at 120 Mains Street in the centre of Glasgow, the interior of which was of their designs. In late 1900, Mackintosh and his wife travelled to Vienna to supervise the installation of their work at the eighth exhibition of the Wiener Sezession, the leading avant-garde art group in the city. After suffering from alcoholism, he retired to a hideway at Walberswick, Suffolk where he produced several elegant watercolours of the harbour area also painting more than forty delicate watercolours of flowers in the precise style of botanical illustrations but with an eye to decorative effect. At the outbreak of the First World War and with local hatreds, it could have been his unfamiliar accent or his nocturnal wanderings for his painting, also his correspondence with radical artists of the Viennese Secession, on returning one evening, the couple found a soldier guarding their Walberswick rooms. Mackintosh was accused of spying and asked to leave the area when he went to London. In August 1915 they found two studios to rent in Glebe Place, Chelsea where they spent the next eight years with little money and little prospect of work in a city during wartime. Wenman Joseph Bassett-Lowke (1877-1953), a manufacturer of scale models and an ardent modernist, asked Mackintosh to remodel a small house for him at 78 Derngate, Northampton and Mackintosh's vivid, Viennese-inspired interiors show that he had regained his creative nerve. The watercolour still-life's that he painted at this time and the textile designs which he and Macdonald produced in their hundreds were sold to manufacturers to make ends meet. In 1923 Mackintosh and his wife went to the south of France, initially for a holiday staying in the Roussillon region often in Port Vendres, a busy little town where the cargo boats unloaded from Algeria. Mackintosh now painted with a steady purpose, producing a series of more than forty watercolours, mainly views of rocks, buildings, and landscapes. These later watercolours were much more ambitious than most of those he had painted in Glasgow or Walberswick. In May 1927, his wife returned to London for six weeks for medical treatment and Mackintosh wrote to her almost every day and in one of the letters he wrote that his tongue felt swollen, which turned out to be cancer of the tongue. Becoming seriously ill in the autumn of 1927 he was taken back to London and, after treatment at Westminster Hospital, was unable to speak. Charles Rennie MacKintosh died at 26 Porchester Square on 10 December 1928. The standard account of Mackintosh's life and work is Thomas Howarth's 'Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Modern Movement' (1952)

Works by This Artist