Charles Rennie Mackintosh

Charles Rennie Mackintosh

A dark-stained oak armchair, 1898-99
designed for the Billiards and Smoking Rooms at Miss Cranston's Argyle Street Tea Rooms
with slightly curved top rail and turned uprights, with shaped arm supports and panelled sides, above dish carved seat, arched apron and tapering legs
Morrison McLeary, Auctioneer, Glasgow, circa 1958
(7) The Fine Art Society Ltd., p.60, pl.62, example illustrated; (1) Billcliffe, pl.1897 A&D, contemporary photographs with examples; pl.1897.11, example with terminals to finials made for Mackintosh's personnal use; pl.1900.D. contemporary photograph of 120 Mains Street, Glasgow; The Studio, Vol.XXXIX, 1906, p.34 & 32, contemporary photographs; (2) Billcliffe, p.29; (9) Howarth, p.128-131 and pl.49B, contemporary photographs; Toronto, 1978, p.33, illustrated
Toronto, 1967, no. 29; Toronto, 1975; Toronto, 1978, no.105, Washington, 1985, no.34

Lot Essay

When Thomas Howarth saw the job-books (now destroyed) of Francis Smith, who made most of the furniture for the Argyle Street Tea Rooms, he noted that furniture designed by Mackintosh was delivered to the premises throughout 1898 and 1899 (Howarth, p.124). He also noted (ibid.) that the records (now destroyed) of the Glasgow photographer, Annan, showed that he took photographs at the premises in 1897 and these photographs were assumed to be the ones which show the Luncheon Room, Billiards Room and Smoking Room; accordingly the furniture shown in these photographs has previously been dated to 1897. Recent research has shown that Building Warrants for the alterations to these rooms were not issued until 1898 and that work was probably not completed before 1899, when Francis Smith was still supplying furniture for Argyle Street. It seems likely, therefore, that this chair and other pieces for the Luncheon, Billiards and Smoking Rooms were not designed until 1898-99, after George Walton, who up to 1897 was responsible for the overall interior furnishings of Miss Cranston's Tea Rooms, had left Glasgow to set up in London.

The design is one of the simplest and most sturdy of Mackintosh's early pieces. Its bulk and solid construction symbolise its intended use in the Smoking Room at the Argyle Street Tea Rooms, an exclusively masculine preserve.

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