Born in Glasgow, the son of a police superintendent, he trained with
John Hutchison, 1884, and attended architecture and modelling classes
, winning a prize for modelling and the
Travelling Scholarship, 1890.
He joined Honeyman & Keppie as a draughtsman in 1888, becoming a
partner from 1904-13.
Mackintosh's first important commission was for the monument to Alexander McCall in
Glasgow's Necropolis, an Iona Cross carved by
J & G Mossman
, with a bronze portrait panel by
James Pittendrigh Macgillivray
He later collaborated with his wife, Margaret MacDonald (1860-1933),
panels, as well as the models for the sculptural details
on his buildings.
His designs for architectural sculpture, however, were often left unexecuted due to cost cutting, as was the case with
the Daily Record Printing Works, 20-28 Renfield Lane (1900) and Hill House, Helensburgh (1903).
Mackintosh buildings with sculpture include:
Queen Margaret's College, which has heads and carver work over its door by
McGilvray & Ferris
(1894, later BBC
Scotland); Queen's Cross Church, Garscube Road,
Glasgow, which has carver work by
Holmes & Jackson
(1896-9); Glasgow School of Art,
which has a figurative cartouche above its door symbolizing The Tree
of Knowledge or Fine Art and Design, by Holmes & Jackson (1899); T & R Annan's Showroom, 518 Sauchiehall Street, for which
carved statues of the Delphic Sybil and the Prophet Isaiah, after Michelangelo's frescos in the
Sistine Chapel (1904); and Scotland Street School, 225 Scotland Street (1904-6), in which Mackintosh explored geometric shapes and patterns which were to reappear regularly in his designs for clocks, furniture, textiles and interiors, and which would culminate in the decor for 78 Derngate, in Northampton (1917).
At Glasgow School Of Art, Mackintosh's original plans for an elaborate and multi-figure sculpture scheme, including
seated figures across the south front and statues of Michelangelo and other artists on the library facade, together with
much decorative carving, was abandoned on grounds of cost, leaving empty niches and uncarved cylinders and blocks of rough-hewn
stone on the library to indicate where the sculpture should be.
However, the necessity for practical features in wrought iron such
as railings and gates also provided an outlet for his sculptural imagination
and the opportunity to have his designs produced, with plant forms, insects, birds and the regeneration of nature and the
human spirit as recurrent symbolic themes.
The ironwork on GSA
was cast by George Adam & Son, who also produced the ironwork for Mackintosh's other buildings.
In the early 1900s, when his architectural career was at its height, he briefly revisited the genre which had originally made his name, designing the memorial to Rev. Alexander Orrock Johnston in MacDuff Cemetery, East Wemyss, which was carved by McGilvray & Ferris (1905).
After a disastrous attempt to pursue an independent practice in
London during the First World War, he settled in Port Vendres, France, as a painter, but returned to
London when he was diagnosed with cancer.
He was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium, London. A photograph of his name-plaque
is featured on the www.findagrave.com website (Record 203).
Mackintosh has since become Glasgow's most celebrated designer.
- Who's Who In Glasgow-1909 [Mackintosh], p. 124, [Honeyman], p. 91, [Keppie], p. 107;
- Blench et al.
- Howarth (1952, rev. 1977);
- Gifford (1988), p. 204;