Stands for Pettigrew & Stephens, Glasgow International Exhibition 1901

M187 Stands for Pettigrew & Stephens, Glasgow International Exhibition 1901

Address: Kelvingrove Park, Glasgow
Date: 1900–1
Client: Pettigrew & Stephens
Authorship: Authorship category 1 (Mackintosh) (Mackintosh)

B/W photograph of Pettigrew & Stephens' lace stall

The Glasgow International Exhibition 1901 was a vast temporary display of art, industry and manufacturing, spread across 73 acres in and around Kelvingrove Park. The successor to an earlier exhibition held on the same site in 1888, it surpassed its predecessor by attracting nearly 11.5 million visitors in its six-month run, from 2 May to 9 November. 1

The main exhibition building was the Industrial Hall. Here, and in the Grand Avenue leading to the Machinery Hall on the S. side of Dumbarton Road, over 800 stands vied with each other for attention. In a review of the exhibition, the Studio regretted the 'huddled and unsymmetrical appearance' of the interior, in which the stands were 'crowded together in a manner not conducive to architectural dignity'. 2

Plan of exhibition from 'Glasgow International Exhibition 1901: Official Guide'Plan of Industrial Hall from 'Glasgow International Exhibition 1901: Official Catalogue'

A prospectus published in March 1899 set out the regulations and conditions for exhibitors. The cost of space inside the building was 3s per square foot, with a minimum charge of 5. An 'Application for Space' form accompanied the prospectus and had to be returned to the General Manager by 1 June 1900, accompanied by a 'sketch showing the shape of the space required' and 'an elevation of the stand'. 3

Mackintosh, whose design submitted on behalf of John Honeyman & Keppie had been unsuccessful in the 1898 competition for the design of the Exhibition buildings, was responsible for the design of at least four of the stands (sometimes referred to as 'stalls' or 'cases'). These were for the Glasgow School of Art , the cabinetmaker Francis Smith, the camera manufacturers Messrs Rae and the department store Pettigrew & Stephens. None of these ephemeral structures is known to survive, although part of the fascia of Francis Smith's stand was still in the possession of his son in 1950, as recorded by Thomas Howarth. 4

Pettigrew & Stephens had two stands at the Exhibition: number 1109, housing a display of lace in the Women's Section, and number 229, elaborately oriental in style, showing silks and linens. It is clear from their job books that John Honeyman & Keppie were responsible for both. Their reconstruction of Pettigrew & Stephens's Sauchiehall Street shop was nearing completion early in 1901, shortly before the Exhibition opened, and the job-book entry for the shop includes several references to work on the stands. On 17 May R. A. McGilvray & Ferris were paid 136 for 'plaster work at Exhibition Stand'; on 4 June Matthew Henderson was paid 650 for 'Exhibition and other cases'; and on 6 July the painters H. L. Anderson & Co. were paid 80 for work on the 'Moorish Stall', and 11 5s 0d for work on the 'Lace Stall', both at the Exhibition. 5

A photograph of the lace stall – the only record of its appearance – was published under Mackintosh's name in the Studio. 6

B/W photograph of Pettigrew & Stephens' lace stall

It was a square enclosure, large enough for visitors to watch 'the slow and tedious but deft process of real lace making carried on by peasant girls from Belgium', with a saleswoman in attendance. 7 It seems to have occupied a corner site, being open on two sides only, with outward-facing displays of lace in tiered compartments. Above these was a decorative fascia with curvilinear decoration in relief, recalling Mackintosh's beds for Windyhill (1901) and anticipating his piano case for Fritz Waerndorfer's music salon (1902). 8 The fascia was supported at the corner by a square post in front of the angled entrance. The Studio classed it as one of a number of stalls 'whose designers have displayed both skill and originality in breaking away from the gingerbread show-case style of design which has hitherto been considered elegant and appropriate by exhibitors at such exhibitions'. 9

The Moorish stall was illustrated and favourably described by Lewis F. Day in the Art Journal: 'The relation of its architecture to Irish peasant industries, or to damask weaving, carried on within its walls, is not very apparent, but it is an attractive and really original facade. The diaper above the arcade is formed of the letters of the alphabet which go to spell the name of the firm, deliberately designed, it seems, to hold a meaning rather than to convey it to the casual observer. They are in fact so fantastically mixed up with swirling lines of merely artistic import, that it is only by anticipation that they are to be read at all .... The scheme of colouring in Messrs Pettigrew and Stevens's [sic] building is more Scottish than Eastern. The colour, indeed, is only saved from garishness by the way the crudish tints are broken up; but, instead of gilding, which the Moors would have employed, to divide up and harmonise them, interstices of white plaster are left; the use of red is reduced to a minimum; and there is a striking predominance of the strong blue and vivid green so dear to Northern eyes. As the continually recurring combination of blue and green recalls a Highland tartan, so the black and white billet ornament occasionally employed suggests a shepherd's plaid.' 10 Day did not identify its designer, but it may well have been John Keppie, whose topographical watercolours show his keen interest in the Islamic architecture of Spain and North Africa. The design was shown in the 1901 exhibition of the Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts (743), where it was briefly noted by the Glasgow Herald: 'The Exhibition stall (753), in Saracenic style, by Messrs Honeyman & Keppie, is very bright and suitable in design, and it is well illustrated.' 11

B/W photograph of 'Moorish' exhibition stand for Pettigrew & Stephens

Notes:

1: Perilla Kinchin and Juliet Kinchin, Glasgow's Great Exhibitions: 1888, 1901, 1911, 1938, 1988, Wendlebury, Oxon: White Cockade Publishing, 1988, pp. 15, 54–93.

2: 'The Glasgow Exhibition', Studio, 23, 1901, pp. 45–8, 165–73, 237–46.

3: Glasgow City Archives Collection: Glasgow International Exhibition 1901, Prospectus, March 1899, D-TC 11/4, box 1.

4: Thomas Howarth, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Modern Movement, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 2nd edn, 1977, p. 174.

5: The Hunterian, University of Glasgow: John Honeyman & Keppie / Honeyman, Keppie & Mackintosh job book, , p. 204.

6: 'The Glasgow Exhibition', Studio, 23, 1901, pp. 45–8, 165–73, 237–46.

7: Glasgow International Exhibition 1901: The Official Catalogue, Glasgow: Charles P. Watson, [1901], p. 415; Glasgow International Exhibition 1901: The Official Guide, Glasgow: Charles P. Watson, [1901], p. 26.

8: Roger Billcliffe, Charles Rennie Mackintosh: The Complete Furniture, Furniture Drawings and Interior Designs, Moffat, Dumfriesshire: Cameron & Hollis, 4th edn, 2009, pp. 128, 142–3.

9: 'The Glasgow Exhibition', Studio, 23, 1901, pp. 45–8, 165–73, 237–46.

10: Lewis F. Day, 'Decorative and Industrial Art at the Glasgow Exhibition (third notice)', Art Journal, 1901, pp. 275–7.

11: Glasgow Herald, 22 April 1901, p. 9.