MACKINTOSH, Charles Rennie
(b. 1868, Glasgow, d. 1928, London)


Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh

In 1923 Mackintosh and his wife Margaret went to Port Vendres, a French Mediterranean village on the Spanish border, where he devoted his time to painting watercolours. As painting was an activity to which he had always dreamed to devote his life, he was very happy to do so.

The immediate vicinity of Port Vendres offered a diverse range of subjects, from the bustle of the quayside with its cranes and ships to the distant perspectives of mountain villages. In this varied landscape, baked by the summer heat, Mackintosh became so obsessed with the integrity and strength of structural form that village houses began to replicate rock formations. In these late works, the relentless Mediterranean light suffuses the delicate watercolours, with their bright orange and blue splotches of roofs and water, reducing countryside and rocky slopes to flat, clearly defined planes without the distortion of shading. Buildings and landscape, having the same purity of form, are united in an overall pattern like a Mackintosh textile design.

Mackintosh's painting of Palalda, the mediaeval hill-town which is now part of Amélie, clearly shows his delight in the jumble of architecture. In it, he combines two different viewpoints. The upper part of the picture seems to have been painted from beside the north side of the river, while the lower part is a view from the south side. He altered the lower part of this painting by cutting a piece of paper to the shape of the houses he wanted to retain and sticking it over the part which he did not like.

On becoming ill in 1927, Mackintosh left France for treatment in London, where he died the next year.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.