" A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country. " That is certainly a theme of the life of Charles Rennie Mackintosh: he was revered in Europe, but virtually ignored in Scotland. He did make his mark, and people from all over the world still make pilgrimages to Glasgow to see the School of Art building, one of his most important designs. Even the students admire it. He was an inspiration to architects and designers worldwide, but when he died, in England, in 1928 at the age of 60, Glasgow hardly noticed.
He was one of a police inspector's 11 children, and became an architectural apprentice in his teens. He had a passion for learning. He went to night school at the Glasgow School of Art, where he attracted the attention of headmaster Francis Newbery, who commissioned
him to design a new school building. Mackintosh built other things in Scotland with a fierce exactitude that sometimes wearied the lazier people who worked with him. He designed furniture; he designed everything. He was responsible for Miss Cranstons tea rooms in Glasgow, several of which are now lovingly preserved as evidence of his genius.
But he never really got recognition in Glasgow. He virtually gave up architecture and took to painting, something he also did very well. His wife, the artist Margaret Macdonald, was a talented woman who joined him in an enthusiasm for top-class design. Mackintosh did not die in poverty. He did, however, die disregarded by the Scottish city he loved so well.
Although Charles Rennie Mackintosh was undeservedly ignored by fellow Scots during his lifetime, he is now celebrated as a brilliant architect and designer, and a leader of the Art Nouveau movement in Britain.
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