The Mackintosh Collection

The Hunterian houses an unrivalled collection of the work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868 – 1928), covering the full range of his output as architect, designer and artist. His achievements include his masterpiece the Glasgow School of Art, the villas Windyhill and The Hill House, Scotland Street School, and a series of city-centre tea room interiors. Mackintosh was one of the most sophisticated exponents of the theory of the room as a work of art, and created distinctive furniture of great formal sophistication. He was also a gifted painter, producing exquisite flower paintings, and, late in life, striking landscapes of the South of France.

The major component of the Hunterian’s Mackintosh Collection is the holding of works on paper, numbering around 1000 items. This includes architectural, furniture and interior designs, textile designs, flower drawings and watercolours. In addition there is the principal holding of the work of Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh, representative examples by the other members of the ‘Group of Four’ – J. Herbert McNair and Frances Macdonald, and a small but important archive of photographs, papers and publications.

Appointments to view reserve material may be made by writing to The Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ.

The holdings are centred on the architect's Estate and the Davidson Gift. After the death of Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh, the couple’s Estate was cared for by their friend and patron, William Davidson, for whom Mackintosh had designed Windyhill in 1900. Following Mr Davidson’s death in 1945, the Mackintoshes' heir, Sylvan McNair, transferred ownership to the University of Glasgow.

In 1920, the Mackintoshes sold their Glasgow home at 78 Southpark Avenue to William Davidson. The purchase included the Mackintosh-designed furniture and fixtures. Following Mr Davidson's death in 1945, his sons, Hamish and Cameron, gifted the Mackintosh contents to the University in memory of the Mackintoshes and their father. At the same time the University purchased the property. The principal interiors have since been meticulously reassembled as The Mackintosh House, an integral part of the Hunterian Art Gallery. The rooms strikingly illustrate Mackintosh’s concept of the room as a work of art as well as allowing the visitor to experience the environment in which the Mackintoshes lived and worked.

Image 1: Drawing room, The Mackintosh House

Image 2: La Rue du Soleil, 1926, pencil and watercolour
The Mackintosh Estate, presented by Sylvan McNair, 1947
GLAHA 41039

The Mackintosh Sketchbooks Project

Sketching was a lifelong preoccupation for Mackintosh, as a professional tool and leisure activity. Twelve sketchbooks‎ survive of which six are in The Hunterian collection. These have been conserved, digitised, catalogued and made available online for the first time with the support of a grant from Museums Galleries Scotland.

The earliest sketchbook contains student studies of building construction details from around 1888. The four travel sketchbooks document Mackintosh's trips through Scotland to Ayrshire, Perthshire and Stirlingshire and in England, to Devon, East Anglia, Gloucestershire, Kent, Norfolk, Oxfordshire, Suffolk and Sussex. These contain drawings of historic and vernacular buildings, architectural details, and exquisite botanical studies. The last notebook records site visits, including refurbishments at The Hill House, late architectural projects in Scotland, and some minor works in London. In all, nearly 300 pages of drawings are now available to be explored.