• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7555

    Scottish Art The Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh

    23 October 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 114

    Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1926)

    Purple Mallows, Holy Island

    Price Realised  


    Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1926)
    Purple Mallows, Holy Island
    signed with initials, inscribed and dated 'PURPLE MALLOWS/HOLY ISLAND/JULY 1901/MT' (lower right)
    pencil and watercolour
    10¼ x 8 in. (26 x 20.3 cm.)

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    In 1900 Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his wife Margaret spent their honeymoon on Holy Island, also known as Lindisfarne, in Northumberland. They returned a year later with Herbert and Francis MacNair and Margaret's brother, Charles. During this stay Mackintosh filled the pages of his sketchbooks with a memorable series of flower drawings. These elegant studies present elements of single specimens, in isolation, set against a plain background, in a manner which evoked the scientific botanical tradition of the 18th Century.

    Although Mackintosh had initially limited his plant studies to pencil line drawings, on this trip to the Holy Island he turned to colour. He used it tentatively at first, but in later drawings pure washes of watercolour become important, not simply in illustrating the flowers, but also as an integral part of the design and pattern of the pictures.
    Dates, place names and initials were incorporated into cartouche boxes in many of these drawings. The 'M' and 'T' in the inscription of Purple Mallows stand for Margaret and Tosh, Mackintosh's family nickname. The appearance of both sets of initials on this drawing, and others of the series, does not indicate that they are collaborative works. Instead, he simply used his drawings as a family album, recording in their inscriptions those who were with him at the time when the drawing was made.

    For a note on the artist see the note preceding lot 113.

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    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.


    Purchased after the Memorial Exhibition, 1933, by R. W. B. Morris, a partner in Charles Macdonald's legal firm and an executor of Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh's estate.


    R. Billcliff, Mackintosh Watercolours, London, 1978, p. 31.