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Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh

Artist 187

Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh

Reinterpreted Symbolism

Gesso panels and Metalwork

Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh (born 1864) was a Scottish artist whose design work became one of the defining features of the Glasgow Style during the 1890s. Notably her gesso panels and metalwork will be today’s focus.

Gesso is a white material made from chalk or gypsum and bound with animal glue, it is known to have been used as far back as ancient Egypt where it provided a base for both painted wall panels and coffins.

The Glasgow Style often took the form of furniture and silverwork, and placed an importance on Celtic imagery.

She worked in a variety of media, including metalwork, embroidery, and textiles and later collaborated with her husband, the architect and designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

She was inspired by Celtic imagery, poems by Morris and Rossetti, literature, symbolism, and folklore. Her husband once wrote of her: “Margaret has genius, I have only talent”.

She created several important interior schemes with her husband. Many of these were executed at the early part of the twentieth century.

The beginning of her artistic career reflects broad strokes of experimentation. Largely drawing from her imagination, she reinterpreted traditional themes, allegories, and symbols in inventive ways.

For instance, immediately following the 1896 opening of her Glasgow studio with her sister, she transformed broad ideas such as "Time" and "Summer" into highly stylized human forms.

Many of her works incorporate muted natural tones, elongated nude human forms, and a subtle interplay between geometric and natural motifs. Above all, her designs demonstrated a type of originality that distinguishes her from other artists of her time.

Sources Consulted:…/Margaret_Macdonald_Mackintosh…/chap…/margaret-macdonald-mackintosh/


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