'Port Vendres - La Ville', watercolour painting

About this object

Although trained as an architect and admired as a designer, Mackintosh always identified himself as an artist and made drawings and paintings throughout his life. When commissions for new buildings and interior design schemes stopped coming in, he re-directed his creativity towards his paintings.

In 1923, he and his wife Margaret left London to travel in the south of France, spending time near the border with Spain at Port Vendres. In this painting of the town you can see the Hotel du Commerce, where the Mackintoshes used to stay between 1924 and 1928. (It's the last building with an awning on the left of the picture). Mackintosh was free to paint for himself every day and created more than 40 water colours, all landscapes, in which the rugged beauty of local scenery contrasts with man-made features such as the quay side, villages, roads and rooves.

Most of these paintings were only seen in public after Mackintosh's death at a retrospective exhibition. Mackintosh had died in 1928 and after Margaret's death in 1933, their friends organised a memorial exhibition in Glasgow as a celebration of their life and work together. Thirty-one of the French landscapes were shown, together with other drawings, watercolours and of course, furniture. It was the first chance to assess Mackintosh's legacy, one reviewer describing him as 'this pioneer of the first modern movement in architecture'. Many today still regard him as the father of Modernism.

Mackintosh's legacy lives on too in Glasgow in the built environment of the city and its surroundings. Despite the disastrous fire at the Glasgow School of Art last year, The Hill House, the Glasgow Herald Building, Queen's Cross Church, the Daily Record Building, Martyr's School and Scotland Street School remain powerful reminders of his distinctive, inventive approach. These buildings all speak louder than words of the lasting impact of his life and work.
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