Interiors for 120 Mains Street

MX.04 Interiors for 120 Mains Street

Address: G2 4EA
Date: 1900
Client: Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Margaret Macdonald
Authorship: Authorship category 1 (Mackintosh) (Mackintosh)

Design

This high-ceilinged, first-floor flat in the 1830s building was Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Margaret Macdonald's first home together following their marriage in August 1900. Mackintosh probably moved from the dark 'bachelor's den' in the basement of his father's house in Strathbungo, on the south side of Glasgow, to live here alone prior to his marriage while he worked on its redecoration in his own time. 1 The job does not appear in John Honeyman & Keppie's job books.

120 Mains Street was a rented flat which would explain why no structural alterations were made. Existing decorative features, such as the cornice and architraves in the drawing room, also remained untouched. 2 Mackintosh designed decorative schemes and furniture for the N.-facing drawing room and studio looking out to Bath Street, and the bedroom and dining room looking W. out to Mains Street. The flat also included a kitchen, small second bedroom and a maid's room. No record of these three rooms survives. 3

The flat provided Mackintosh with the opportunity to develop his design ideas further. Aspects of his holistic aesthetic, such as the articulation of space using a horizontal picture rail and vertical wall-strapping, the careful groupings of unconventionally spare furniture, the contrasting light and dark palettes and the importance given to the fireplace, informed many later domestic and tearoom projects, 4 including the contemporaneous interiors for Miss Cranston's tea rooms in Ingram Street and Dunglass Castle, Bowling for Margaret Macdonald's brother, Charles Macdonald. 5

In spring 1906 Mackintosh and Margaret Macdonald moved to a three-storey house, 6 Florentine Terrace, in the West End of the city, near the University of Glasgow. The interiors there largely replicated those at Mains Street, recreating the decorative schemes, and reusing the fittings, fire surrounds and furniture from the flat.

Reception

Photographs of the flat appeared in three publications in the years immediately following its completion. A special number of the Studio in 1901 carried the photographs by T. & R. Annan, accompanied by brief, descriptive captions. 6 Hermann Muthesius' 1904 publication Das Englische Haus briefly mentioned Mackintosh's interiors, praising their restrained colours and included two views of the drawing room. 7 In 1905, a French publication, De la Tamise à la Sprée, l'essor des industries d'art included an essay describing the flat which apparently had been visited by the review's author, E. B. Kalas. 8 Kalas has often, incorrectly, been thought to be a man, but in fact was Madame Blanche-Ernest Kalas (née Blanche Honorine Trouchon), a painter, and wife of Rheims architect Ernest Kalas. 9

Later history

At some point between 1910 and 1934, the building containing 120 Mains (later Blythswood) Street was extended S. incorporating the garden or yard between it and Bath Lane. This added two bays and a new doorway to the Mains Street elevation, and must have led to the blocking up of the S.-facing kitchen and second bedroom windows in the Mackintosh's former flat. This new doorway was later renumbered 120; the original number 120, nearer the street corner, no longer has a number. 10

top

Notes:

1: Pamela Robertson, The Mackintosh House, Glasgow: Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow, 2011, pp. 9–10.' Alan Crawford, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, London: Thames & Hudson, 1995, p. 69–70.

2: Alan Crawford, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, London: Thames & Hudson, 1995, p. 66.

3: Alan Crawford, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, London: Thames & Hudson, 1995, pp. 66–7; for an in-depth account of the interiors and furniture, see Roger Billcliffe, Charles Rennie Mackintosh: The Complete Furniture, Furniture Drawings and Interior Designs, Moffat, Dumfriesshire: Cameron & Hollis, 4th edn, 2009, pp. 10–12; 78–90

4: Roger Billcliffe, Charles Rennie Mackintosh: The Complete Furniture, Furniture Drawings and Interior Designs, Moffat, Dumfriesshire: Cameron & Hollis, 4th edn, 2009, p.12; Alan Crawford, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, London: Thames & Hudson, 1995, pp. 66–7.

5: Roger Billcliffe, Charles Rennie Mackintosh: The Complete Furniture, Furniture Drawings and Interior Designs, Moffat, Dumfriesshire: Cameron & Hollis, 4th edn, 2009, p.78; Alan Crawford, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, London: Thames & Hudson, 1995, p. 67.

6: Charles Holme (ed.), Studio: Modern British Domestic Architecture and Decoration, 1901, pp. 110–5.. Roger Billcliffe points out that some of Annan's photographs of the flat must have been taken no earlier than 1902 due to the appearance in them of an oval table which does not appear elsewhere until the International Exhibition in Turin. Roger Billcliffe, Charles Rennie Mackintosh: The Complete Furniture, Furniture Drawings and Interior Designs, Moffat, Dumfriesshire: Cameron & Hollis, 4th edn, 2009, p. 80.

7: Hermann Muthesius Das Englische Haus, Berlin: Ernst Wasmuth Verlag, 1, 1904, plates 172 and 174; first English translation: The English House London: Crosy Lockwood Staples, 1979, pp. 51–4, figs. 111 and 112.

8: Thomas Howarth, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Modern Movement, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 2nd edn, 1977, p. 46. An English translation of the essay was used as the introduction to the 1933 Memorial Exhibition catalogue. B. E. [sic] Kalas (trans. John Dunlop), 'The Art of Glasgow', De la Tamise à la Sprée, l'essor des industries d'art, Rheims: Michaud, 1905, reprinted in Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh, Memorial Exhibition Catalogue, Glasgow: McLellan Galleries, 1933, pp. 3–5.

9: Neil Jackson identifies Madame Kalas as the author of the essay in his article, 'Found in Translation: Muthesius, Mackintosh and Japan', Journal of Architecture, 18, no. 2, 2013, p. 210, notes 113–14.

10: See extension to the building in O.S., Lanarkshire VI.10 (County Series 1:2500, 2nd revision, surveyed 1910, published 1914) and O.S. Lanarkshire NS56 (County Series 1:2500, 3rd revision, 1934).