Special Collections: Charles Rennie Mackintosh

Mackintosh Library at Glasgow School of Art, View from mezzanine

Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928) was the architect of Glasgow School of Art’s beautiful Art Nouveau building (sadly destroyed by fires in 2014 and 2018) and one of its most famous alumni. The Mackintosh Library was built between 1907 and 1909 as part of the second phase of this building, first designed for the School in 1896. It was generally accepted as one of the finest Art Nouveau interiors internationally, and regarded as a masterpiece of twentieth century British architecture.

Mackintosh Collection at GSA Library

Glasgow School of Art Library acts as one of the principal repositories for published research on Charles Rennie Mackintosh. It is our aim to collect as much published material on Mackintosh as we can, from academic catalogue raisonnes to small exhibition pamphlets, and from guide books to children’s books. We are always seeking to add to our holdings, and collect across all languages.

The comprehensiveness of the Mackintosh collection and its lengthy time-span, from 1952 to the present day, make it a rich resource for research at all levels. It offers a fascinating demonstration of how attitudes towards Mackintosh’s work have changed as he has become more widely known, and as his place in the history of twentieth century architecture has been better understood. The collection can be used to place Mackintosh’s work in the context of what was happening in art and architecture at the turn of the twentieth century, and gives researchers an understanding of how subsequent generations of architects, such as Andy MacMillan and Steven Holl, have interpreted and been inspired by his designs.

In addition to books from well-established publishers, the collection contains rare exhibition catalogues, pamphlets and material from lesser-known sources. These often focus on other areas of Mackintosh’s work, such as his flower drawings and textile designs.

Mackintosh Dissertations & Theses

We also hold student dissertations concerning Mackintosh and his works. These cover most of his buildings in detail, and in the case of the Mackintosh Building, analyse aspects such as the furniture and ironwork. There are many unique photographs, measured drawings, and plans. All of these dissertations have been digitised and made available through RADAR, the School’s institutional repository.

Mackintosh and Book Design

During his career, Mackintosh designed a small number of book covers for the Glasgow publishers Blackie & Son. Mackintosh enjoyed strong links to the firm: his friend Talwin Morris had been Art Director at Blackies from 1893-1911 and had introduced him to Walter Blackie. This led to the commission to design the Blackie family home, Hill House in Helensburgh.