Thursday, February 4, 2016

Charles Rennie Mackintosh: Architect, Designer, and Painter

By Gretchen Sawatzki

Charles Rennie Mackintosh
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Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868 - 1928) was a Scottish artist, architect and designer known for his distinct floral and rose motifs often associated with the "Glasgow Style" or "Mackintosh Style" of the Scottish Arts and Crafts Movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

A student at the Glasgow School of Art, Mackintosh fashioned his style through a series of friendships and collaborations that culminated in the creation of a design powerhouse group known simply as "The Four." Consisting of Herbert McNair and sisters Frances and Margaret Macdonald, "The Four" created designs for furniture, paintings, and decorative elements with a focus on elongated natural forms similar to those forms found in the Art Nouveau style of the same period, and in the work of artist Alphonse Mucha.

1901 drawing for a music room.
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Mackintosh's career was short-lived and his talent often went unnoticed by the Glasgow community. Mackintosh's most renown creations in the United Kingdom include the country estate, House for the Art Lover, the Willow Tea Rooms in Glasgow, and his last commissioned work in Glasgow (between 1903 and 1906), the Scotland Street School - all of which can be visited today.

View of interior music room inside the House for the Art Lover.
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Probably his most iconic design comes in the form of a rose - the "Mackintosh Rose."  A favorite motif of Mackintosh, the rose exemplified his feelings for the arts, "Art is a flower. Life is a green leaf." Some of his most beautiful creations featuring his floral design include the Mackintosh Queen's Cross at a church now housing the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society and rose motifs in The House for the Art Lover and the famous rose window of the Hill House in Glasgow.

"Mackintosh Rose" window at the Hill House, Glasgow.
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While Mackintosh's career was short-lived, his impact on early 20th century architecture and design cannot go unnoticed. While most people associate the name with the rose motif, Mackintosh proved his skill in a number of applications including architecture, design, and painting - all of which are still enjoyed by art and architecture lovers today.

              Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society
              Glasgow Mackintosh
              Glasgow School of Art
              House for an Art Lover

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