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In 1904 Mackintosh was commissioned by Catherine Cranston and her husband to remodel and furnish their house at Hous'hill. It was the last domestic commission of any consequence which Mackintosh received in Glasgow, and developments of the new style he began here can only be seen in the work at Northampton carried out ten years later.
Included in the commission were two bedrooms, the Blue Bedroom for Miss Cranston and her husband furnished in oak, and the White Bedroom, a guest room, where all the furniture except two small chairs was painted in white. Mackintosh had started to paint his bedrooms white in 1898 at Westdel, Glasgow, and he continued to use white in all the bedrooms he designed until 1904. The white painted is usually associated with shapes or decoration inspired organic forms -- leaves, tendrils, roses and petals. The Hous'hill furniture, however, is predominately linear and geometric in form and decoration. It is the rationalisation of a process of simplification in Mackintosh's designs for furniture which had begun the previous year in The Hill House, Helensburgh.
The contrasting of white pieces against a single black-painted item like a chair also stems from The Hill House; this was the last occasion that Mackintosh was to paint his furniture white.
As it was not a family bedroom Mackintosh duplicated all the items except the writing desk. There are, therefore, two beds, two washstands, etc. In 1933 the Hous'hill was sold in auction, [and] the White Bedroom pieces divided. The furniture exhibited here retains its original painted surface, but other furniture from the room has been re-finished. It is extremely rare to find Mackintosh's white furniture still in its original condition; all of the furniture in his own house (now collection Hunterian Art Gallery) and at The Hill House has been repainted and the only other substantial quantiiy of work still in its original condition is the group of three pieces designed for the bedroom at Windyhill (now collection Glasgow School of Art).
Furniture from Hous'hill, Glasgow
- Chair (white bedroom)
- Writing Desk (white bedroom)
- Four-Poster Bed (white bedroom)
- Washstand (white bedroom)
- Dressing table/chest of drawers with mirror (white bedroom)
Billcliffe, Roger. The Complete Furniture, Furniture Drawings, and Interior Designs. London: John Murray, 1986. p. 167, 1904-51.
Spring '84. Exhibition catalogue. London: Fine Art Society, 1984. No. 44.
Last modified 4 June 2021