Charles Rennie Mackintosh is one of the more enigmatic figures of 19th and 20th Century design and architecture. While most of his contemporaries were prodigious journal keepers, essayists, and lecturers, Mackintosh was not a particularly communicative artist. With the exception of a series of lovely letters written to Margaret when he was 59, (they were separated because she was back in London undergoing medical treatment) very little of his thought process is known. His early reputation was built largely on the critical success of three buildings: The Glasgow School of Art (1896-1899 phase 1 and 1906-1909 phase 2), a home for merchant William Davidson called Wyndy Hill (1900), and a home for publisher William Blackie called Hill House(1902-04). He had also gained a degree of notoriety, especially in Germany and Austria for many of his interiors, including the Mackintoshes’ own rented apartment at 120 Mains, (later fleshed out at a purchased property at 6 Florentine Terrace and documented in this website), and the wonderful tea rooms for Miss Catherine Cranston. He was, quite literally, a comet streaking across the Glasgow horizon for ten years. By the end of the first decade of the twentieth century the fire had burned out and Mackintosh was well on his way to becoming an embittered man. In 1914 his association with Honeyman and Keppie was dissolved and soon thereafter he and Margaret left Glasgow and moved to England where they lived for the next eight years and where little work came his way. In 1923 the Mackintoshes took a long holiday in southern France and made the decision to stay. For the next five years Mackintosh painted masterful watercolors of the French countryside. Little is known of Margaret’s activities during this period. On December 10, 1928 soon after being diagnosed with throat cancer, Charles Rennie Mackintosh passed away. Margaret wandered Europe and in 1932 she returned to Chelsea, England where she died on January 7, 1933. During my 2003 Sabbatical research on Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his wife Margaret, one question continued to allude me. That question was, how much of a role did Margaret play in Charles' success as a designer and architect? The authoritative and excellent biography of Mackintosh by Thomas Howarth alludes to her influence in a somewhat chauvinistic manner-indicative of the time in which it was written. Most writings about Mackintosh seem to have looked upon Margaret as his muse. However, it's my contention that she was much more than that. She was a talented designer and artist in her own right. It seems to me that she and Mackintosh formed a strong artistic collaboration, her feminine ideas of the nebulous and ambiguous playing off against his hard edges and structured geometry.
The intent of this website is to provide a window for the interested person into the design and architecture of the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of that new millennium - the twentieth.
I have also provided a bibliography for those who wish to delve deeper into the artistic wonders of this period.