Mackintosh and his wife moved to Walberswick, on the Suffolk coast in 1914. He returned to painting flower studies in watercolour, a subject that had interested him since the early 1890s. These became more elaborate and pictorial. Butterfly Flower, Bowling dates from before the move to Suffolk. Bowling, a small village on the Clyde outside Glasgow, was the home of Mackintosh's parents-in-law.
Charles Rennie Mackintosh
Watercolour on paper
26 × 20 cm
39.5 × 33.5 × 2 cm
Signed and dated bottom right
Charles Rennie Mackintosh, 1868-1928
Born in Glasgow, Mackintosh started an apprenticeship in 1884 with a local architect, John Hutchinson, and at the same time attended evening classes at Glasgow School of Art. In 1889 he joined the firm of Honeyman and Keppie as draughtsman. At art school, Mackintosh and his friend and colleague Herbert MacNair met two artist sisters, Margaret - who was to become Mackintosh's wife - and Frances MacDonald, who married MacNair. Together they formed the "Glasgow Four", or "Spook School" as they were soon nicknamed, to create a specifically Scottish variant of the Continental Art Nouveau style. They collaborated on designs for furniture, metalwork and illustration, developing a distinctive style.
In 1896 Mackintosh won the competition to design a new building for Glasgow School of Art. Completed in two stages, owing to lack of funds, the building was one of the first in the International Modern style and today is one of the city's best-loved structures. Mackintosh was interested in the 'total design' of a building, both exterior and interior, and in addition to the architectural details also designed the wallpaper, textiles and furniture.
The originality of Mackintosh's style was soon appreciated on the Continent, notably in Germany and Austria, yes despite this international success he struggled to find clients at home. In 1900 the Mackintoshes were feted in Vienna for their contribution to the Eight Vienna Secession. There Mackintosh came into contact with many leading European designers, including Josef Hoffman, who became a close friend. In 1902 the Mackintosh Room at the Turin International Exhibition was also lauded. Mackintosh went on to exhibit in Moscow and Berlin.
Mackintosh moved to London in 1915 to resume practice as an architect and designer. Around this time he produced designs for dramatic interiors for W.J. Bassett-Lowke's house in Northampton, which show him in a bold new style of decoration using primary colours and geometrical motifs.
In 1923 the Mackintoshes left London for the South of France, where Mackintosh finally abandoned all thought of architecture and devoted himself completely to painting landscapes in watercolour. They remained there until his death five years later.