Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Glasgow Four

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Charles Rennie Mackintosh is now lauded as Scotland’s greatest modern architect but sadly his potential was never fully realised during his lifetime. He ended his days in obscurity. The role played by his equally talented wife, Margaret Macdonald, and his collaborators, her sister Francis Macdonald and Herbert MacNair, has only recently been fully appreciated.

Margaret played a central role in the creation of those wonderful white rooms designed for Vienna in 1900 and Turin 1902, as well as the interior décor of Hill House, Helensburgh. Margaret contributed her distinctive pewter panels with ‘spooky’ maidens and ionic plaster panels inspired by fairy tales or poems. The Macdonald girls, who drew on Japanese prints, the Arts and Crafts movement and the graphics of Aubrey Beardsley, helped to create the inimitable Glasgow style. As well as looking at the Four’s work in Glasgow, the Glasgow School of Art, the Hill House, and Miss Cranston’s Tea Rooms, the impact of their design ethos on the emergence of European modernism is also assessed.


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