Let’s journey now through the delightful variations of Art Nouveau, the global art movement transitioning the 19th century into the early 20th century. 

In general, a definition of Art Nouveau is: focused primarily on the decorative arts, employing sinuous, curvilinear shapes inspired by nature.  Here is an example based on that definition.


This is the iconic staircase at the Hotel Tassel, Brussels, Belgium 1894, designed by Victor Horta.

Compare this to the forms of art being created in nearby Austria, such as flatware designed by Josef Hoffmann of the Weiner Workstatte, 1904.


Where does Glasgow fit in?  Glasgow offers us the design work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, often working in full partnership with his wife Margaret Macdonald.  Together they created environments for living—he provided the architectural structure and general furniture and interior design, while she contributed to the ambience with paintings, textiles, and ornamental details to the furniture design. With Margaret’s sister Frances and Charles’ best friend James Herbert McNair, they were styled “The Four.”

They were part of a larger group of progressive architects and innovative artists, “The Immortals,” living in Glasgow in the 1890s, as seen in this photo.


Mackintosh’s designs favored the Austrian-Scandinavian-Italian styling of angularity, as we shall see.

Within his designs, particularly for residences, he provides for dark “masculine” spaces contrasting with light “feminine” areas. His design for the Library at the Glasgow School of Art, 1896, is an example of dark and severe.


His work was influential to, and perhaps inspired by, the examples he saw of British designer C.F.A. Voysey and the American Frank Lloyd Wright, and certainly with his exposure to a wider European audience while participating in the International Exhibition of Decorative Arts in Turin in 1902. This was distinctly inspirational to the developing American Arts and Crafts Movement.

A second category of his work, focusing on light/white painted wood complimented by pastel glass or gesso ornamentation, is represented in the tea rooms designed by Catherine Cranston, and the Hill House, a residence for publisher Walter Blackie.

Here, the drawing room at Hill House, 1904

drawing room

Mackintosh did not have an easy time of it.  By the turn of the century, Britain was moving away from the opulent Art Nouveau styles as seen in Belgium and France.  The country was not set to embrace the more severe and angular ideals, and Mackintosh was someplace in the middle.  A century later, however, his visionary work, focused on presenting a holistic approach to residential designs in particular, is being celebrated.

In Glasgow, the hometown of Mackintosh, there are several examples of his work that you can experience.  By far the best, in my estimation, is the reconstructed Mackintosh House on the University of Glasgow campus.  This is at the heart of the Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery.

It is absolutely thrilling to walk into spaces you have only seen as illustrations.  I highly recommend this.

Mackintosh house
mackintosh house

Information provided below by: https://www.gpsmycity.com/attractions/mackintosh-house-26690.html

Mackintosh House, Glasgow 

No-one should miss the chance to visit a house museum if possible because they are an excellent way of feeling as though you are stepping back in time. Mackintosh House on the Glasgow University campus is a very fine example of this.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh was a 19th/20th-century architect, designer, artist and the principal representative of the Art Nouveau Movement in the UK. He and his wife Margaret, who was also a renowned artist, lived in the house on Southpark Avenue between 1906 and 1914, when they moved, the house and its contents were bought by a Mr Davison and his family. When they put the house up for sale in their turn in 1946, it was bought by Glasgow University and the Davidsons made the university a gift of the furniture.

The house museum has been a part of the Hunterian Art Gallery since 1981 and is a faithful reconstruction of the time when the Mackintosh’s lived there. The beautiful furniture was designed by Mackintosh himself and several examples of his and Margaret’s paintings adorn the walls.

You can visit the hall, drawing room, dining room, studio and main bedroom, all of which are elegantly decorated. As you drift from room to room, you almost expect to come across Charles working on the designs of another building, or Margaret, paintbrush in hand, bent over her easel to catch the last rays of the summer sun.

Take the morning guided tour first – you will then be able to pop back in the afternoon when you can go round at your leisure.

sitting room

A misty morning view of the University of Glasgow.

university of glasgow bidget

The University of Glasgow—do you recognize a setting for a popular film series?

university of glasgow

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