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The Mackintosh House
Hunterian Art Gallery
University of Glasgow
82 Hillhead St G12 8QQ
When we planned our mini break to Scotland one of the main things I wanted to explore was the artist and architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his legacy in the city of Glasgow. We spent some time researching where the places were and what you were able to visit and get inside and this was one of places that came up as worth a visit.
We had to plan our visits as some places were in one part of Glasgow and others on the other side or just out of the city . This is not actually the mackintosh's original house but it is a recreation of their home built within the Hunterian Art Gallery in the University area of Glasgow. We decided that we needed to visit this place on the afternoon when we arrived in Glasgow after our lunch at One Devonshire gardens as we could walk there after our meal.
This was not that easy to find and we walked all through the university which was beautiful. We found one part of the Hunterian within the university but this house was over the road so we had to find our way out and across the road and in to the other part of the gallery.
There is usually a charge to enter this house but on Wednesday afternoon after 2.00pm it is free and luckily our visit took place on Wednesday after 2pm. Admission to the actual gallery is free and while you are waiting for your tour time you can look around the gallery.
Once it is time for your tour you are invited into a waiting area that is a little like a large lift and told what to expect and also that no photographs are allowed inside the 'house'. The gallery has the some of the most important Mackintosh works as well as the contents of their home in the recreated Mackintosh House.
CHARLE RENNIE MACKINTOSH AND MARGARET MACDONALD MACKINTOSH
Was a Scottish architect engineer, designer and artist and lived from 1868 t0 1928. He is probably Scotland's most famous artist/architect and I just love his work. I was unaware until we visited Glasgow that his wife was also an artist and in fact her work is also just as beautiful and very similar to his. She has created beautiful paintings, metalwork textiles and more, i was really amazed that not so much is known about her work and often her husband seems to be given credit for some of her stuff. Her name is Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh and she lived from 1864 to 1933. They really were an amazing partnership and this house was a blank canvas for them to unleash their creative genius.
INTO THE HOUSE
Although this is a reconstruction of the terrace the Mackintosh's lived in at 78 Sothpark Avenue, it is as faithful to the original in size and light as it can be but some less significant rooms have not been included such as the kitchen, bathroom and cloakroom. The furniture is all Mackintosh original and from the house or other houses he designed.
You are first taken into the hallway with the false front door. From the outside the door can be seen about ten feet above the ground. The house was a terrace in Glasgow so narrow and tall. The hall is narrow and minimalist with cream walls and carpet .There is a large mirror entitled 'Vanity' on one wall and a window above the door to let in light.
From here we were taken into the dining room which is far darker and the walls have honesty plants in silver painted on them which looked great. The dining table with a central runner also had honesty symbols on it and was the creation of Mrs Mac. The dining chairs were upright wooden and had very tall backs similar to those of Frank Lloyd Wright. In fact we noticed lots of similarities between the two and apparently we were not the first to remark about this fact. The walls were a sort of caramel colour and the furniture dark wood. There was also a fire place with wooden surround hiding lots of storage possibilities. Although it was quite dark and sombre I really loved the classy lines and elegant stencilling of the honesty symbols.
We then went up one story to the large living or studio drawing room which was a wow! as soon as you walked in. It looked stunning, cools creams and light colours on the floor and walls. The lights were all Mackintosh designed and very art nouveau hanging groups of lights with metal shades. There was so much furniture that was unique and worth inspecting closely. You were not allowed to touch anything so cupboards that were open you could see into but those closed had to be looked at as they were. Mackintosh designed the furniture but had cabinet makers create them , I asked if he actually built them himself and received that answer.
The room looked lovely and the furniture was certainly lovely looking but in fact I am not sure how comfortable it would have been to sit in the room as the chairs didn't look like those you would relax in with your feet up but maybe people didn't do that back in the early 20th century.
The cupboards that were open had the Mrs Mackintosh rose painted on the insides. They were tall and elegant. The desks were very unusual as the top part was actually bigger than the base. They looked like a T shape with the bottom of the T being the base and the flaps opening out for storage and work space. One was white and the other dark mahogany. The latter was only bought after a big appeal in 1979 for a world record price for the Mackintosh foundation.
This room was very much a collaboration between both Macdonalds and the rose panel above the fireplace is her design as are the two roses in the tall white cupboard on the doors. In fact many of the designs I had previously thought of as CRM turn out to actually be MMM which was a real surprise to me.
The stairway was not altered much except for painting and adding a new south facing window on the first landing to let in more light. The striped stair way led to a studio/bedroom which has not be recreated in this house.
The Mackintosh's bedroom was another room that made you take a sharp intake of breath as it was so light and so modern looking. Fitted wardrobes with mirrors and very minimalist while a very slim mirror stand with small storage drawers on the side really took my eyes as it was beautiful, tall white slim and so elegant. A very simple table dressing table with a glass top and white sheer frilled curtain across its front was about the only other piece of furniture apart from the bed which was a white for poster in the foot of the T shaped room . The carpet was a very pale cream or white and the overall effect was simple elegance.
As you went up another level on the landing area were several art works by the artists and are part of the collection owned y the Hunterian gallery. The final part of this display is a recreation of a room designed by mackintosh for a client at 78 Derngate, Northampton in 1917. This was quite different from those in their house .It was vibrant stripes and very masculine in a very 1930s sort of look and not very appealing to me personally.
This entire collection of CR Mackintosh's work was gifted to the University of Glasgow by his nephew in 1947. They also own the biggest collection of Margaret Mackintosh so if you are interested in the works of these two talented people then Glasgow is the place to come.
I was very impressed with the house even though it was not actually the mackintosh's house it was a very faithful recreation and it gave a very good idea of their style and their work within the house from furniture through to creations on the wall and paintings. It was beautiful and would happily have lived in the house though a comfortable sofa might have been needed in the living room.
I would thoroughly recommend a visit to the Mackintosh House if you are interested in art and architecture as well as furniture design and the work of Rennie Mackintosh and his wife. I was very taken with this place and was looking forward to seeing his other work in the next couple of days.
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