Stand for Messrs Rae, Glasgow International Exhibition 1901

M186 Stand for Messrs Rae, Glasgow International Exhibition 1901

Address: Kelvingrove Park, Glasgow
Date: 1900–1
Client: Messrs Rae
Authorship: Authorship category 1 (Mackintosh) (Mackintosh)

B/W photograph of Messrs Rae's stand at Glasgow International Exhibition 1901, from 'Dekorative Kunst', 8, 1901

The 1901 Glasgow International Exhibition 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, who 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 department store Pettigrew & Stephens, the Glasgow School of Art, the cabinetmaker Francis Smith and the camera manufacturers Rae Ltd. 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

The stand for photographic equipment retailers and opticians Rae Ltd, number 928, was in the Grand Avenue. Like Francis Smith's, it was only a frontage, but Messrs Rae's decoration was significantly more elaborate than Smith's. The central opening and two flanking display cases were framed by four tapering square columns, topped with clusters of metal rods ending in petal shapes. Similar columns were later used by Mackintosh in the dining room at 6 Florentine Terrace. Drawings for the earlier dining room at 120 Mains Street suggest that the same design may have been used there, although this is not clear from photographs of the completed room. A photograph of the stand was reproduced in Dekorative Kunst, to accompany a review of the exhibition written by Hermann Muthesius. 5

B/W photograph of Messrs Rae's stand at Glasgow International Exhibition 1901, from 'Dekorative Kunst', 8, 1901

Messrs Rae's shop at 134 St Vincent Street, Glasgow, was just across the road from Francis Smith's at 137A, and they may have become aware of Mackintosh through Smith. The stand was presumably a private commission, since Mackintosh's drawing for it is inscribed with his home address, 120 Mains Street. 6

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: Dekorative Kunst, 8, 1901, p. 495.

6: The Hunterian, University of Glasgow: GLAHA 41792 (M186-001).