“The architect must become an art worker… the art worker must become an architect… the draughtsman of the future must be an artist…” Charles Rennie Mackintosh
Charles Rennie Mackintosh was born in Glasgow and worked as an architect, designer and watercolourist. While studying architecture at the Glasgow School of Art he won first prize in a watercolour competition. He went on to produce many watercolours during the 1890s, gradually integrating more mystical themes into his work. His style was very much in the vein of Art Nouveau. Works such as ‘Princess Uty’ (1897-1898) and ‘In Fairyland’ (1897) show a preponderance with the magical as he moved away from his earlier Symbolist works with their eerie moods produced for The Magazine.
From 1900 Mackintosh’s architectural work took precedence over his watercolours. His most famous building is the Glasgow School of Art (1897-1899). He incorporated considerable detail from nature into both his watercolours and his architecture. Wild flowers were present in many of his buildings, furniture and paintings. He was also concerned with design, pattern, line and colour over content and emotion. In 1914 he moved to London with his wife Margaret Macdonald and, although continuing with his design and watercolour work, gave up architecture. He turned to landscape painting and produced a number of impressive works first in Dorset and later in France, where he lived from 1923 to 1927. Many of these works show a concern with the relationship between the man-made and the natural environment.
His influences can be seen in such artists as Gustav Klimt and the early work of Egon Schiele. One can see elements of Cubism and Fauvism in his work, but principally he did not consciously draw on these precedents preferring to concentrate on the representation of the natural world in his own intricate fashion. His work enjoyed a major reputation amongst the avant-garde in Europe, especially Germany and Austria, but in his own country he was far less appreciated. Today his many architectural achievements, furniture designs and watercolours are highly regarded.