Charles Rennie Mackintosh

Scottish designer and architect Mackintosh was a leading British exponent of Art Nouveau. Through exposure in magazines such as the Studio, participation in exhibitions such as the Vienna Secession, and featuring in Hermann Muthesius' (1904-95) influential book Das Englische Haus he also proved to be an influential figure in European design. In addition to the design of a number of striking buildings, he also worked in a wide range of design fields including graphics, interiors, furniture, cutlery and tableware, textiles, carpets, metalwork, stained glass, and jewellery. After an apprenticeship in architectural offices in Glasgow from 1884 to 1889 he began working in architectural practice and developed an interest in Scottish architectural precedents. By the early 1890s his interests also embraced late Arts and Crafts architecture and design as well as the flowing forms associated with Symbolist work seen in the pages of Studio. In this period he attended evening classes at Glasgow School of Art 1885-9 and began to work very closely with fellow students H. J. Macnair and sisters Margaret and Frances Macdonald, the group becoming known collectively as the "Glasgow Four". Their work was characterized by curvilinear, flowing forms derived from Celtic art in posters, furniture, and metalwork and attracted considerable critical attention. In 1897 he won the competition for the new Glasgow School of Art which was built between 1897 and 1899, designing furniture, fittings and fitments, and architectural details that became hallmarks of his style. Other important commissions included tearoom interiors and furniture for Mrs Cranston in Glasgow, the first of which (in Argyle Street) also dated from 1897, with the rest following over succeeding years. His influence in Europe was strengthened by exposure in continental arts journals such as Decorative Kunst and Ver sacrum and participation in the 1900 Vienna Secession and 1902 Turin Exhibitions, for which he designed the Scottish Sections to considerable critical acclaim. In 1902 he also designed a music room for Fritz Warndorfer, a major financier of the Wiener Werkstätte, which were founded in the following year. Another widely renowned Mackintosh building was his 1903 Hill House in Helensburgh, near Glasgow, a synthesis of architecture and furniture commissioned by the publisher W. W. Blackie. After moving to London in 1913 he undertook design work for W. J. Bassett Lowke, also redesigning a terraced house for him in 78 Derngate, Northampton (1913-16). This was well known for its rectilinear furniture and fitments, as well as having close affinities with the more geometric side of Wiener Werkstätte design and marking a clear shift from the more flowing, organic forms of his earlier work.