Mackintosh’s intense feeling for spatial values . . . an overwhelmingly full polyphony of abstract form . . . interesting perspectives . . . fascinating vistas . . . show him as the European counterpart of Frank Lloyd Wright and one of the true forerunners of the most ingenious juggler with space now alive: Le Corbusier.

—Nikolaus Pevsner Pioneers of the Modern Movement, 1936

The Mackintosh Memorial Exhibition of May 1933 commemorated the lifetime achievements of the Mackintoshes. At the same time, the eminent art and architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner was writing his Pioneers of the Modern Movement, which was among the first texts to historically assess the international evolution of late nineteenth-century architecture and design. Both Pevsner and those paying tribute through obituaries offered the first contextual and aesthetic appraisals of some of Mackintosh’s most ambitious projects: Miss Cranston’s Buchanan Street and Willow Tearooms, The Glasgow School of Art, and The Hill House. They praised both his innovative two- and three-dimensional designs and singled out his abstracted musical and mathematical minimalism of 1907–9 as an important marker on the road toward international modernism. The slow growing appreciation of Mackintosh’s legacy, and the creativity of the Glasgow Style, had begun.

Catalogue for the Mackintosh Memorial Exhibition, May 1933
Published by McLellan Galleries, Corporation of Glasgow
Paper and printer’s ink
Mitchell Library, Special Collections: Given by James Meldrum, 1938, 1000992.MC/5

The Mackintosh Memorial Exhibition of May 1933 was organized by businessmen James Meldrum, whose father had studied alongside Mackintosh at The Glasgow School of Art, and William Davidson, who had commissioned his house Windyhill from the architect. This exhibition of the Mackintoshes’ and some of the MacNairs’ work comprised loans from friends, photographs of the architectural projects, and objects from the Mackintoshes’ estate that were for sale. Jessie Newbery wrote the catalogue foreword, and B. E. Kalas eulogized the couple by noting, “From a country which is a peculiar mixture of puritanism and romanticism, of continence and mysticism, must come something like the art of the Mackintoshes.”

Remembering Charles Rennie Mackintosh
© Culture and Sport Glasgow (Museums), 2019

1. Letter (translated into English) from Professor Josef Hoffmann, civil architect, Vienna, to James Meldrum, co-organizer of the Mackintosh Memorial Exhibition, May 15, 1933
Mitchell Library, Special Collections: Given by James Meldrum, 1938

Alongside artist Gustav Klimt, architect Josef Hoffmann was a founding member of the Vienna Secession and was instrumental in the radical artistic group that invited the Mackintoshes and MacNairs to Austria in 1900. Close in age, Mackintosh and Hoffmann admired each other’s work, shared many artistic interests, and pursued similar modern design principles.

In 1903, while Mackintosh was embarking on some of his most ambitious Glasgow projects, Hoffmann co-founded the design guild the Wiener Werkstätte (Vienna Workshop). Its financier was Fritz Waerndorfer, who commissioned both Mackintosh and Hoffmann to design rooms for his home in 1902. The opportunities that arose through Hoffmann’s invite to Vienna in 1900 provided a significant chapter in the Mackintoshes’ lives.

2. Extract from a letter from Alice Talwin Morris to Dr. Tom Honeyman, director of Glasgow Museums and Art Galleries, October 20, 1939
Glasgow Museums: 1/1/309 GML.2018.1.12

Alice Talwin Morris remained a close friend of the Mackintoshes until their final days and was one of the few people to attend Mackintosh’s funeral with Margaret in 1928. After the Mackintoshes’ deaths, Alice gave all the works she owned by The Four and her late husband to Glasgow’s civic collection to champion and preserve their legacies and memory. Many of these generous gifts are included in this exhibition. This reading is of an excerpt from her correspondence at the time of her gift. Alice’s words provide a unique insight into friendship, collaboration, Mackintosh’s personality, and his aesthetic passions.

Running time: 5 minutes, 45 seconds

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