A World in a Grain of Sand: Charles Rennie Mackintosh

Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928) was a Scottish architect, designer and watercolorist. Even if you don't know a thing about him, you might have seen pictures of his famous high-backed chair.

His design for Glasgow School of Art (1896-99) has achieved iconic status, combining elements of Art Nouveau and the Arts-and Crafts movement with a tough Scottish style of building.

Charles Mackintosh was also an extraordinary watercolorist. His subjects tended to be landscape, architecture or floral studies, everything painted with what I'd call a lively precision. In keeping with my current theme of small subjects intensely observed, here are several of his flower paintings:

 Jasmine 1915

Willow Herb 1919

Sea Pink, Holy Island 1901

 Rosemary 1915

  Stagthorn, Walberswick  1914

  Cactus. Walberswick 1915

These watercolors combine a charmingly heartfelt appreciation for the natural world with a keen sense of design. The spacing of the flowers on the page seems to owe something to Japanese art, recently introduced to the Western world.
Art is the Flower. Life is the Green Leaf. Let every artist strive to make his flower a beautiful living thing, something that will convince the world that there may be, there are, things more precious more beautiful - more lasting than life itself. 
-Charles Rennie Mackintosh


  1. The interesting thing about his watercolour sketches of wild flowers - particularly those done at Walberswick - is that it seems very likely that he drew them but his wife Margaret Macdonal Mackintosh (MMM) painted at least some of them. See http://makingamark.blogspot.co.uk/2007/07/flowers-in-art-and-charles-rennie.html for more information

    1. Thank you Katherine. Your blog post about Mackintosh's watercolors is wonderful. You go into so much depth, and I can see that your work has a natural affinity with his.

  2. You may have heard that the Glasgow School Of Art building was severly damaged by fire a couple of weeks ago. I believe an appeal has been set up for its restoration


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