A taxi was used after breakfast to take us quickly up to the Hunterian Art Gallery in the University. The taxi fare of about £13 was almost as expensive as our train tickets from Preston to Glasgow, £15 for the two. From the outside the gallery was a big block of concrete, brutalistic Mike said. But inside is a hidden gem – The Mackintosh House.
Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928) was a renowned architect, designer and artist creating modern Art Nouveau buildings with the interiors and furnishings complementing his minimalistic ideas. His wife Margaret was a talented artist/designer and collaborated on many of his works.
One of their projects was to transform the interior of the house they were living in from 1906 to 1914, 78 Southpark Avenue. They had a vision for light clean lines, often taken from nature, and designed everything from the furniture to the curtains to create integrated spaces for living in. “the room as a work of art” Subsequent owners kept the interior and eventually Glasgow University took it over in 1945. The furnitures were put in storage and when the house was demolished in the 1960s the interiors were preserved along with drawings and photographs of the house. By 1981 the interior of the house had been carefully replicated inside the university art gallery and the original furnishings installed. Carpets, curtains and soft furnishings were produced from drawings and photos.
So we found ourselves stepping into the Mackintosh’s entrance hall from over a century ago. The adjoining dining room was more of a sombre hue with distinctive Mackintosh chairs. On the next floor up elegant stairs was the L-shaped drawing room created from two rooms, As soon as you enter you are transfixed by the white decoration, flooded with light from windows which replicate the original house’s orientation. All was sublime. Delicate details from Margaret compliment the distinctive furniture of Charles. Up a floor, and you were in the bedroom, again an L-shaped area. All white with furniture inspired by plant and bird forms. Everything was exquisite.
For an in depth look this video is recommended.
The adjacent art gallery had more of Mackintosh’s work, complemented by his wife, and fellow artists and collaborators, the husband and wife James and Frances McNair. This included a reconstruction of one of Mackintosh’s last interior schemes from Derngate, Northampton, 1916, pictured in the heading photo.
Adjacent galleries highlighted the painter James A M Whistler. I don’t remember seeing any of his works before and was particularly impressed by his long portraits, delicate impressionism. No sign of his mother.
The university gallery had several of the paintings of the Glasgow Boys and the Scottish Colourists.
The ‘Boys’ – an informal group of 20 Glasgow artists that came together in the early 1880s – they challenged Victorian Scottish painting, and developed a distinctive style of naturalist painting. Outdoor painting of local scenes and people with strong brush strokes and later French-inspired techniques bordering on the abstract. Whistler’s work was an influence.
The ‘Colourists’ – four painters – Francis Cadell (1883–1937), John Fergusson (1874–1961), George Hunter (1879–1931) and Samuel Peploe (1831–1935). They used vibrant primary colours and simplified avant-garde forms. I first became aware of them at an exhibition in Woking in 2019.
There will be more of these Scottish painters in the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum this afternoon. Time for a break.