Friday, June 06, 2014

Arty Farty Friday ~ Charles Rennie Mackintosh & Margaret MacDonald Mackintosh

Charles Rennie Mackintosh, a longtime favourite of mine. Back in the UK I had framed posters and prints of his work around my bedroom walls. He was born exactly a year after famous American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, my post on both men and their natal charts is HERE. I've lifted the Mackintosh portion for today's post so's I can add some information including the chart of Charles' artist wife Margaret MacDonald Mackintosh.

First, a reprise on Charles Rennie Mackintosh, - his birthday anniversary falls tomorrow, 7 June. Biographical detail is at the Wiki link, also HERE, so I will not repeat the bulk of it.

Mackintosh found many and diverse outlets for his talents: watercolours, posters, furniture design, architecture, interior design. Such diversity is fitting for a Sun Gemini individual. While Frank Lloyd Wright is famous for his dramatic architectural work, the talent of Charles Rennie Mackintosh shines most brightly from his exquisite interior design and artwork. He did design houses, and buildings such as the Glasgow School of Art, notable in their own way, and more traditional in design and proportion than those of his Gemini contemporary across the Atlantic.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh blended the sinuous organic style of Art Nouveau and and the simplicity of Japanese form to create something unique. His architecture remained truer to Scottish tradition, his interiors didn't. Sadly, his talent didn't bring the accolades he deserved in his own lifetime. In "The Mackintosh Style" by Elizabeth Wilhide the author remarks that:

"Sheer bad luck, professional setbacks and misunderstanding conspired to provide Mackintosh with what has been described as 'a tragically small range of opportunities'.

A proud and difficult temperament only made matters worse and gave a sad inevitability to his decline. What began so brilliantly ended in self-imposed exile, near-penury and almost critical eclipse."

Mackintosh died of cancer at age 60.

It is poignant and ironic to note that Charles Rennie Mackintosh's furniture and artwork now sell for millions of pounds/dollars, yet at the time of his death his entire estate, which comprised the contents of two studios, was assessed at 88 pounds ($136.40). Mackintosh buildings were being demolished as late as mid-20th century, whereas today they are prized for the treasures they truly are.

House for an Art Lover

Glasgow School of Art

Born in Glasgow, Scotland UK, on 7 June 1868 - no time known- chart below set for 12 noon.

His Uranus/Mercury conjunction reflects the avant garde styles he presented to what must have been, at times, an astonished public. His designs were fresh and new, like nothing seen before in traditional Scottish circles. I've often thought that he was born at least a couple of decades before his time. I guess having Uranus so close to a very personal planet like Mercury can do that to a person!

Sun is alone in Gemini. Mercury/Uranus and Venus lie in sensitive Cancer. A serious Capricorn Moon would have been somewhere between 6 and 18 degrees.

The probable (can't be sure without time of birth) opposition between Uranus/Mercury in Cancer and Moon in Capricorn suggests an internal struggle which could have made his temperament seem "difficult". The Mars/Pluto conjunction in Fixed sign Taurus could also reflect a somewhat stubborn or awkward nature. Sun is tightly sextile (helpful aspect) Neptune in Aries (creativity), but Jupiter is square (challenging) Mercury/Uranus - is this a possible source of his lack of lucky breaks and opportunity?

There's a loose Grand Trine linking Jupiter in Aries to Saturn in Sagittarius to Venus in the last degrees of Cancer. Jupiter, Venus and Saturn are three helpful planets for an artist/architect to have within a linked circuit - technically this is a Fire Grand Trine indicating a go-getter, initiator, but Venus has slipped just off the Leo leg, and lies still in Cancer. Maybe a symbolic indication of the slipping away of the fame to which he was justly due, within his lifetime.


Margaret was born on 5 November 1864 in Tipton, near Wolverhampton, England. The family later moved to live in Scotland. She met Charles around 1893, while she and her sister Frances were studying at the Glasgow School of Art. They married in 1900. Margaret was described as a woman who was totally original in looks and style. She had no poses, great masses of coppery burnished hair, above a broad brow and quiet eyes. Charles and Margaret seem to have achieved that elusive wonder "a match made in heaven". It's warming to find at least one among the marital detritus of the art world in general.

Margaret's sister, Frances married Charles' friend Herbert MacNair, they formed the group known as The Glasgow Four, and became pioneers of what was later termed Glasgow Style. Both sisters' names remained in the shadow of their famous husbands, but whereas MacNair destroyed most of Frances's work after her death, Charles Rennie Mackintosh acknowledged and revered Margaret's work and her contribution to his own creativity.

Margaret's watercolour paintings had influenced in Charles' own creative development, and she collaborated with him on many of his decorative and architectural projects. After 27 years of marriage, and not long before he died, Charles wrote to Margaret: You must remember that in all my architectural efforts you have been half if not three-quarters of them. He had often been heard to express the opinion that, while he possessed talent, his wife had genius. In 1914 the couple settled in England, living in Chelsea, London 1916-23, then in Port Vendres in the French Pyrenees from 1923 to 1927. Margaret died in January 1933.

A few examples of Margaret's work, then a look at her natal chart.

 Opera of the Winds. Gesso panel created for the front of the piano for Fritz Waerndorfer's Music Room in Vienna.

 Decorative panel, White Rose, Red Rose


Both charts are here for easy comparison. Both are set for 12 noon as no times of birth are known.

Margaret, born 5 November 1864, Tipton, UK

Charles, born 7 June 1868 in Glasgow, Scotland, UK

The pair probably shared a Capricorn Moon, though we cannot be absolutely certain about Margaret's without a time of birth. Their natal Suns, without the aid of some other commonalities could have meant these two would never have felt an attraction to one another, but his Sun at 16 Gemini, linked to her Mars at 17 Gemini; his Saturn at 1 Sagittarius, to her Jupiter at 2 Sagittarius and Venus at 11 Sagittarius. These links must have combined to forge a strong enough astrological compatibility to manifest in a happy working partnership and idyllic marriage. A nice piece of evidence against jumping to conclusions about compatibility on Sun sign alone!


LB said...

Twilight ~ So it was Charles Rennie Mackintosh who designed those high-backed chairs I've seen around! And some of Margaret's work reminds me of Gustav Klimt, one of my favorite artists.

Also nice to read about a seemingly healthy, loving and encouraging partnership for a change - love the note Charles wrote to Margaret.

Looking at the synastry aspects you've mentioned, I can see how Margaret could've helped Charles to focus his varied talents and energies. Plus, with Margaret's Sun opposite Charles' Mars-Pluto conjunction, her Pluto conjunct his Mars (and Pluto), and his Sun opposite her Venus, they might have also shared a strong physical attraction. Margaret's Saturn square Charles' Venus may been the glue that helped hold them together.

One other interesting thing I noticed is that in their *composite* chart, their composite Sun would have been almost exactly conjunct Charles' natal North Node in Leo! Seems like a great combination for helping Charles' artistic self-expression to shine through.

mike said...

Over the years, I've come to understand that marriage means something entirely different than my notions as an adolescent. The union can explore the spectrum of possibilities...a set of agreements between two individuals that may or may not change over time. I like the astrological profile you and LB paint of this couple...and I hope that Charles and Margaret actually fit the painting!

I very much like their individual artistic style and accomplishments. A power couple in the art world.

It always saddens me that so many of these individuals in our history were recognized posthumously. While alive, they somehow had the fortitude and conviction to express their talents, whether anyone else cared or not.

mike (again) said...

Off topic - you have several Wichita Falls, TX, posts, so I decided to put this in today's post...LOL.

While at the barber shop this morning, I browsed "Texas Parks & Wildlife" magazine. Came across an article on Wichita Falls, TX, and thought you might enjoy reading it. I particularly enjoyed reading about the "world's smallest skyscraper"...very cute building...I'd love to live in it. The article said it was a con job:

"...the plan called for a structure 480 INCHES tall, not 480 feet. Having failed to read the proverbial fine print, the investors took a bath while the scam-artist builder took a train ride back East."


Twilight said...

LB ~ Thanks for those extra astrological pointers - I like them all.

I think I read somewhere that their friends said that Margaret was the better planner and organiser of the pair, and Charles was happy about that.

They lived in an artistically lovely and lively era - for those moving in the right circles that is.

I just love all their work, and have from the moment I first discovered it.

Twilight said...

mike ~ From all reports these two were truly a very happy couple. Whether their marriage fit what most would see as typical today I very much doubt. Maybe that was their secret ingredient - being different.

I think some marriages fail due to over-glamorous expectations....starting with those ridiculously expensive weddings! Those make me cringe.

I'm particularly sad for Charles' non-recognition in his lifetime. He was way, way ahead of his time - that's top and bottom of it. The public hadn't caught up.

mike (again) ~ Thanks for that link - yes we've often taken day trips to Wichita Falls, it's about an hour and 20 mins' drive from where we are.
I'd read about that mini skyscraper before, but each time we go to the city we forget to look for it!
The only time we made a side trip to see the Falls themselves they were dry - cut off for some maintenance work I think. Another look is in order one of these days. I like Wichita Falls, better than Oklahoma City in fact.

JD said...

You may not know but there was a fire at the Glasgow School of Art last month. The damage to the building and contents are not as bad as was feared and it will be fully restored (I hope)

I have been there and I can tell you it is a wonderful building, photos cannot do justice to it.
“the only art school in the world where the building is worthy of the subject”

Twilight said...

JD ~ I didn't know - thanks for the information. I'm so glad the damage wasn't as bad as it might have been.
I'd have loved to see the building, as well as some other of CRM's work, but at the only times I was in Glasgow, or nearby, back in the 1960s, I hadn't even heard his name. :-(

Sackerson said...

Nice to see a local Tipton lass do so well.

Twilight said...

Sackerson ~ Hi! Yes, indeed! :-)