The popularity of the Glasgow Style began to decline around 1908. By this time some of its key practitioners had retired or left Glasgow to pursue opportunities abroad. In 1911 Talwin Morris died. So too did William Forrest Salmon, instigating the breakup of Salmon, Son & Gillespie. The MacNairs suffered difficult times, with financial, personal, and professional pressures.

The seeds of change had been scattered, however, and several of the women artists and designers, now known as the Glasgow Girls, forged successful careers at home and abroad. At The Glasgow School of Art, Ann Macbeth launched her Educational Needlecraft initiative, an influential new teaching method for needlework that would be used throughout the British Empire. Handicrafts would perpetuate the Glasgow Style through their application of its most popular motifs.

Around this time local opportunities dried up for Mackintosh, who failed to secure another big, creatively challenging architectural project after The Glasgow School of Art. His designs began to move toward more boldly geometric and colorful patterns that anticipated Art Deco. On December 31, 1913, after a financial review determined that he was not bringing enough money into the practice, Mackintosh parted from Honeyman, Keppie & Mackintosh Architects. In July 1914 the Mackintoshes left Glasgow. Later that month World War I began. Nothing would be the same again.

Design for Talwin Morris’s gravestone, 1911
Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868–1928)
Pencil and wash on paper
From the collections of The Hunterian, University of Glasgow, GLAHA 41931

Talwin Morris died on March 29, 1911, at the age of only forty-five. Mackintosh designed his gravestone, the fourth and final funerary monument the architect produced. Morris’s burial plot in Dumbarton Cemetery sat directly under a weeping willow, and here Mackintosh sketches its hanging branches over the top of the tombstone, incorporating the tree as an integral part of Morris’s final resting place. The repeating motif of the three triangles represented “two hearts and one soul.” Talwin’s widow, Alice, who commissioned the memorial, was buried with her husband forty-four years later, in 1955.

Menu card for Miss Cranston’s White Cockade Exhibition Café, 1911
Designed by Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh (1864–1933)
Printed card
Glasgow Museums: Given by a private donor, 2000, E.2000.13.1

Catherine Cranston ran two Scottish-themed cafes at the 1911 Scottish Exhibition of National History, Art and Industry—the third great Glasgow exhibition. The Macdonald sisters each designed a menu card. Margaret’s, seen here, addresses the historical subject of the Jacobites, a late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century group predominantly composed of Scottish supporters of the Catholic royal James Stuart. A stylized white cockade—the white ribbon of the Jacobites’ cause—appears in the square logo to the left, and on the woman’s bodice to the right. A hint of checkered tartan in red, black, and green can be seen to the left of her shoulder, referencing Highland dress.

Educational Needlecraft, 1917
Written and devised by Ann Macbeth (1875–1948) and Margaret Swanson (1872–1942)
Published by Longmans, Green & Co.
Linen hardcover, second edition
Mitchell Library, Special Collections: Given by The Glasgow School of Art, 1920, MLSC.746.4088.054.SWA

Ann Macbeth’s Educational Needlecraft was first published in 1911 and repositioned the instruction of needlework in British schools. Under her direction, the medium became a progressive, graded system of tuition for students from their primary schooling through their college years, turning the subject into a practical and artistic tool in the classroom. The embroidery exercises detailed in this book utilized Glasgow Style designs and its favored stitches and motifs. The course book remained in use for over fifty years and spread the Style internationally as Needlecraft was taught in schools around the world.

Bag worked from Lesson II of Educational Needlecraft, after 1911
Designed and made by Janet McKim
Linen, silk, and woven textile
Glasgow Museums: Given by the artist’s family, 1980, E.1980.176.2

Janet McKim, a teacher studying the Educational Needlecraft course at The Glasgow School of Art, translated a basic running stitch exercise into a sample bag with sophisticated blocks of color. The greens, purples, and whites were part of the Glasgow Style’s favored palette. Needlecraft author Ann Macbeth maintained that these hues were kind on a child’s eyes. But these colors had a more significant meaning for the radical “new women” of the Needlework Department—they were the colors of the suffragist movement, specifically the Women’s Social and Political Union, who were campaigning and demonstrating for women to get the vote.

Embroidered panel section for a bodice, unfinished, ca. 1910
Designed and made by Christine McLaren (1873–1951)
Silk velvet, silk, gold thread, and beads
Glasgow Museums: Given by a private donor, 1981, E.1981.36.4

Christine McLaren attended Ann Macbeth’s Art Needlework Diploma Saturday morning classes for teachers. This panel, designed for the front of a dress, shows her adapting and modernizing the Glasgow rose motif through color and materials. She embellished her design using beads wrapped in gold thread. Her bodice panel reveals how the Needlecraft teaching program was relevant well into the twentieth century and perpetuated the use of Glasgow Style motifs.

Design: roses on a checkered ground, ca. July 1914–June 1915
Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868–1928)
Pencil and watercolor on paper
From the collections of The Hunterian, University of Glasgow, GLAHA 52303

Mackintosh worked on this large design sometime during the eleven months after he and Margaret left Glasgow for the village of Walberswick in rural Suffolk, England, following his departure as a partner from the firm of Honeyman, Keppie & Mackintosh Architects. The work’s scale suggests that it could have been a proposal or a working drawing for a wallcovering with a repeating pattern. This design incorporates the tiny black-and-white checkerboard that Mackintosh frequently employed for stencil schemes. He wrote the name of the village and the cottage they stayed at in the lower right corner of the drawing.

Man Makes the Beads of Life but Woman Must Thread Them, 1911 or after
Frances Macdonald MacNair (1873–1921)
Pencil, watercolor, gouache, and gold paint on paper
From the collections of The Hunterian, University of Glasgow, GLAHA 41284

Around 1911 Frances Macdonald MacNair painted a series of watercolors in which the main female figure appears physically isolated or consciously detached from the other figures in the composition. This group of works was the most intense and psychologically charged of her career. These unhappy paintings no doubt reflect the personal turmoil Frances faced starting in 1909 when the MacNairs were confronted with James’s father’s bankruptcy, their spiraling debts, Frances’s mother’s death, and uncertainty about the direction of their careers.

Printing proof for book cover: The Rambler Travel Books: The British Isles, ca. 1913
Printing proof for book cover: Rambles among Our Industries: Cotton and the Spinner, ca. 1913
Designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868–1928), ca. 1913
Published by Blackie & Son
Woodblock prints on cloth
Glasgow Museums: Given by Walter W. Blackie, 1944, PR.1977.13.ak.1, .2

The death of Talwin Morris seems to have prompted publisher Blackie & Son to invite Mackintosh to create covers for their books. His first designs were for these two softback series. For Rambles among Our Industries, Mackintosh used an arrangement of small squares, alluding to the patterns on graph paper used by industrial designers. For The Rambler Travel Books he created a loose line drawing of trees in the countryside, repurposing forms that first appeared in his work as early as 1894.

A Book of Sundials and Their Mottoes, 1914
Cover designed by Jessie Marion King (1875–1949)
Published by T. N. Foulis
Printed hardcover, first edition
Mitchell Library, Special Collections: Moir Fund acquisition, 1987, MLSC.TNF.900258.C005615909

This book cover design by Jessie Marion King shows the later evolution of her illustrative style, which by the early 1910s had become looser and spikier with touches of bright, bold color. King designed this cover when she was living and working in Paris, running a teaching studio with her husband, the designer and painter Ernest Archibald Taylor. The couple returned to Scotland after the outbreak of World War I, and King continued to be a prolific book illustrator and designer, exhibiting widely. By the end of her professional career, she had worked on more than two hundred titles.

The Saucy May, ca. 1922
Cover designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868–1928), ca. 1921
Published by Blackie & Son
Printed cloth hardcover
Mitchell Library, Special Collections: Children’s Collection, MLSC.CC.900764.C005982843

Following World War I, Mackintosh produced three book cover designs for Blackie & Son, all of which employed bold geometric patterns. He needed to be exacting with his proportional calculations to achieve the precise rhythmic effect in this design. This cover derives in part from the ideas seen in the stepped wall paneling of the Cloister Room from Miss Cranston’s Ingram Street Tearooms displayed nearby.

Design for the lounge hall, 78 Derngate, Northampton, England, 1916
Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868–1928)
Pencil and wash on paper
From the collections of The Hunterian, University of Glasgow, GLAHA 41104

Mackintosh’s last major domestic design commission, which he worked on between 1916 and 1917, was for interiors and furniture for the terraced house belonging to engineer W. J. Bassett-Lowke in the east of England. Bassett-Lowke was color-blind, and yellow was one of the few colors he could see. Responding to this, Mackintosh applied decorative leaded glass and stenciling in shades of yellow and white to the walls, which were painted black. Squares and triangles predominate, with wavy lines added to counterbalance the room’s rigidly angular design. This can be seen, for instance, on the tallest and highest-placed leaded glass panel in the staircase screen. The whole effect transformed a tiny room into a modern and dramatic space.

Design for a vestibule in The Dug-Out, Miss Cranston’s Willow Tearooms, 1917
Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868–1928)
Pencil and watercolor on paper
From the collections of The Glasgow School of Art, MC/G/49

Catherine Cranston commissioned Mackintosh to design this basement tearoom extension to her Willow Tearooms in 1917, the penultimate year of World War I. Its name, The Dug-Out, refers to the holes soldiers cut into the sides of their trenches for refuge from enemy fire on the front line. For this project Mackintosh revisited ideas he employed at Bassett-Lowke’s home, Derngate, completed that same year, and some of his 1911 designs for doors, stenciling, and wall paneling from the Ingram Street Tearooms. His use of bold colors, such as the yellow of the painted bench, adds brightness to this small room, which received no natural light.

Wall panel from the Cloister Room, Miss Cranston’s Ingram Street Tearooms, 1911–12
Designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868–1928), 1911
Woodwork by joiner James Grant
Paintwork by decorator William Douglas (active ca. 1880–1941)
Umbrella holder and hooks by blacksmith R. Smith & Co.
Wood, varnish, paint, metal sheet, and wrought and cast iron
Glasgow Museums: Acquired by Glasgow Corporation as part of the Ingram Street Tearooms, 1950, ISTR.3.N.12, E.1986.119.7, ISTR.3.F.2.1, .2, .3.1–4

This stepped wall panel was one of six that lined the walls of the Cloister Room, Mackintosh’s last interior for Miss Cranston’s Ingram Street Tearooms. He applied the wave motif, seen here on both the wrought iron umbrella holder and the painted decoration, throughout the room: elsewhere it appeared constructed above doorways, painted along cornices, and carved and cast into the plaster ceiling. These undulations can be read as stylized hanging foliage and could reference weeping willow branches. Designed at the very end of 1911, this interior was an early exploration of the geometric forms and patterns of Art Deco, though completed well before the 1925 Paris International Exhibition that gave Art Deco its name.

Mackintosh’s Textile Designs

Repeating patterns have a rhythm and a pulse. They can communicate vibrant energy or a calm elegance. Choices of color, the sizes of details, and the dynamism of lines determine the mood each pattern conveys. Between the years 1915 and 1923, while based in London, Mackintosh created many fabric designs for the manufacturers Foxton’s and Sefton’s. During this period Mackintosh worked with patterns that included bold florals as well as those in which checkerboards, squares, and triangles are set within and contrasted with organic, undulating lines. Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh also designed textiles at this time.

Textile design: stylized chrysanthemums, ca. 1915–23
Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868–1928)
Pencil and watercolor on wove paper
From the collections of The Hunterian, University of Glasgow, GLAHA 41095

In this textile design Mackintosh focused on undulating waves of chrysanthemum petals, using their flower heads as the central motif to create an abundant garland. This pattern has a spacious and unusual repeating arrangement, and Mackintosh has suggested how this would work in pencil under the main design. The cluster of three paler flowers at the bottom left shows an alternative color combination for the fabric.

Textile design: wave pattern in purple, pink, orange, and black, ca. 1915–23
Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868–1928)
Pencil and watercolor on paper
From the collections of The Hunterian, University of Glasgow, GLAHA 41485

Mackintosh’s precise use of contrast and symmetry here created a brilliant optical illusion. He aligned the orange, purple, and white loops vertically against the penciled grid, but the wavy arcs of pink and black create strong diagonals that pull the eye away from the underlying structure of the pattern. The lower line of colored boxes in the bottom left corner suggests an alternative, brighter color combination for the same fabric pattern. Mackintosh’s studio address appears at the bottom right.

Textile design: green and purple stylized foliage, ca. 1915–23
Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868–1928)
Pencil, ink, and watercolor on paper
From the collections of The Hunterian, University of Glasgow, GLAHA 41995

This textile design is one of Mackintosh’s most complex and unruly. The background of tiny blue triangles and orange flowers provides points of static order across the busy repeat pattern. A lighter color arrangement on the left and a darker one on the right suggest that Mackintosh used this design drawing to present two color options for the fabric.

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