This was Mackintosh's first Symbolist painting. It was exhibted (and marked not for sale) around the time he was breaking up with Jessie Keppie (the daughter of his future boss) and becoming seriously involved with Margaret MacDonald. The painting was given to John Keppie where it hung in his office, ostensibly never seen by Jessie. Jessie, who was heartbroken, never married and lived the the rest of her life with her brother.
Mackintosh's drawing skills were certainly enhanced through a traveling scholarship to Italy in 1891. He sketched voraciously, eschewing visits to the great sites to concentrate on architectural style and ornament. He developed a looser style which would come to serve him well in the coming years.
Mackintosh had always been interested in spending time in gardens and sketching and painting the flowers. They are almost always in a vertical format and the line work - the contours and the subtle changes in quality, bring to mind the technical aspects of the drawings of Austrian Secessionist painter Egon Schiele.
It's obvious too that Mackintosh owes a debt of gratitude to the great Chinese and Japanese painters who western artists were just discovering in the late nineteenth century. Mackintosh's tendency to leave drawings purposely unfinished references Asian painting. So does his use of the void making what isn't there as important and sometimes more important than what IS there.
Mackintosh's drawing was always deeply rooted in his professional training and in his years as an architectural draftsman preparing renderings and elevation views for clients. He was not particularly interested in media other than pencil, ink and watercolor. In this repect his drawing/painting is rather straight forward. However, the strength of his compositions seem to make up for a lack of experimentation in media.
Possibly one of Mackintosh's more "painterly" works. It is a still life of an arrangement of Anenomes with a piece of textile of Macintosh's design providing part of the background. The way in which the watercolor paint is manipulated suggest an "impressionist" painting.
It can be argued that Mackintosh was not very creative in his subject matter. After his experimentation with symbolic and allegorical content in his early drawing and painting (possibly under the influence of his group of friends) he seems to have reverted to his real passion which was nature.
This is a landscape of La Lagoonne, a village near Mont Louis in the Pyrenees. Mackintosh liked to spend his summers here away from the intense heat on the coast. This painting is interesting in that it is a little more monochromatic than most of his landscapes. Also Mackintosh has conceived it as a largely two dimensional composition. Even the perspective seems rather ambiguous.
For a period of time the Mackintoshes stayed at the Hôtel du Commerce on the waterfront in Port-Vendres. Mackintosh seemed to be fascinated with the visual dialog between manmade and natural shapes. These scenes were always painted on site-never from memory or sketches.
Mackintosh probably painted many studies of Pyrenean wildflowers but unfortunately only a few survive. This "Mixed Flower" study includes twenty recognizable species. However, in the Rhinanthus petals on the top left Macintosh is having some fun, morphing the petals into birds eyes and beaks.
Although the two never again met after the Mackintoshes left Glasgow in 1914, Walter Blackie, who had commissioned Hill House, remained a faithful supporter of Mackintosh all his life. Firmly believing in Mackintosh's place in history, Blackie purchased this painting and presented it to the Tate Gallery.
Like most of Mackintosh's compositions this one is without people. It's as if, in Mackintosh's world, people spoil the architecture and landscape. If we go back to 1895 his perspective rendering for Martyrs' Public School has several happy children in the foreground, all skipping rope and enjoying life. Fast foreward to 1906 and his perspective rendering for Scotland Street School and it is situated on a landscape devoid of human beings.
All of Macintosh's watercolors exude a distinct graphic style, no doubt due to Macintosh's use of line. Again, the artist's fascination with the dialog between the natural and the manmade is the primary content of the composition.
The Rock was painted in May 1927. That same month Margaret returned to London for medical treatment. Mackintosh was working on this painting during her two month stay and he wrote her almost every other day. Early in the letters he confided in Margaret that his tongue was swollen and blistered. It was the onset of the cancer that would take his life.
Early in his studies at the Glasgow School of Art it became clear that young Mackintosh was an extraordinary draftsman. By the time he had graduated and started working for Honeyman and Keppie his drawings and renderings were exquisite. A pencil, ink and watercolor rendering from 1901 of his design for Daily Record Building (opposite) is evidence of his facile use of line and his ability to give us the necessary details without overstating the case. His architectural renderings are truly things of beauty and grace, but his still lifes and landscapes take it all to another level entirely. In his troubled years especially, Mackintosh consistently turned to drawing and painting for his creative inspiration.His years in England (1914-1922) produced many beautiful watercolor still lifes, though not much in the way of any major architectural commissions. In 1923 he and Margaret went on holiday to south France and decided to stay. There, Mackintosh painted some of his most memorable landscapes. In late 1927 Mackintosh was stricken with cancer and he and Margaret returned to England. C.R. Macintosh died December 10, 1928. Margaret died in 1932.