Charles Rennie Mackintosh, (left) Design for textile

Charles Rennie Mackintosh, (left) Design for textile

Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928)
Design for textile (left)
About 1915
Watercolour on tracing paper
Museum no. E.856-1968

Design for textile (middle)
About 1915
Watercolour on tracing paper
Museum no. E.854-1968

Design for textile (right)
About 1915
Watercolour on tracing paper
Museum no. E.864a-1968

The Artist
Mackintosh's radical architecture had never really been accepted in Glasgow. He left his native city in 1914 to seek work elsewhere.

In 1915 he moved to London and, although unable to revive his architectural career, found work as a designer. Most of the designs he produced between 1915 and 1923, when he left for France, are for textiles.

The Images
The style of these pieces is very different from his architecture. Here he uses bold colours and organic forms, where before he had a taste for simple geometric design. This may suggest the direction that his architectural work would have taken had it continued.

These designs show how Mackintosh's observation of nature fed his work as a designer. After leaving Glasgow, he began to draw from life. His flower drawings date from this time. Their influence on his new style of design comes through strongly in these pieces. The design in the centre is probably for a handkerchief. It contains a stylised rose at its right-hand corner. Mackintosh had used this rose motif several times before in various projects. Here its resemblance to stained glass or ironwork seems like a slightly sad echo of his former career as an architect.

Plant forms played an important role in Mackintosh's design. From the nationalistic thistle motifs on the Glasgow School of Art to the roses and tobacco flowers of his late textiles, the flower is a powerful symbol in his work. He made many flower studies around this time. They show how the forms of his design work had their roots in the careful study of nature.

The design on the right is signed with an unusual 'cartouche'. It bears the title of the drawing and the initials of Mackintosh (CRM) and his wife, Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh (MMM). This suggests that they may both have worked on the drawing. Margaret was a well-respected artist in her own right. Her murals and decorations adorn several of Mackintosh's buildings.

These designs can be found in Prints and Drawings Study Room box TOPIC 1b.