For many in Scotland, Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s life amounted to little more than attending an art school, designing a modernized Glasgow Art School, naming it in his honour, and designing a few tea rooms and art traps in Glasgow before dying.
But this limited understanding does one of the most influential, creative and mysterious sons of Scotland a disservice. Mackintosh was one of four graduates who helped mark the beginning of an age of daring artistic flair, a tradition that sparked “The Glasgow Model”–a completely new art movement, and a style which continues to inspire the world to this day.
Art lovers from all over the globe tend to arrive in Glasgow paying homage to the enduring art of Mackintosh, from the Lighthouse in Mitchell Lane to the Bellahouston Park House for an Art Lover. The breadth of the holdings of Mackintosh also stretches far beyond Glasgow’s walls. It was no secret that Mackintosh and many of his peers were influenced by the Japanese culture of that period (Japonisme). He has a strong reputation in the Asian country today, and it has been said that the Hida Takayama Art Museum in Japan has the largest collection of Mackintosh’s work outside the UK.
Mackintosh is little recognized throughout his tenure beyond or before the art school. No newspapers or diaries have ever been discovered that outline his thoughts as a student or what might have been his ambitions for the future. What is documented about his period is that he met his future girlfriend, Margaret McDonald, and they became known as “The Four” together with Herbert MacNair’s close friend, her sister Frances and Mackintosh, or more disappointingly “The Spook College.” They’ve always changed the face of art in Scotland together.