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Glasgow School of Art: The Magazine

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The Magazine's history

A Pond, November 1896, by Frances Elizabeth Macdonald

The Magazine is an illustrated handwritten journal which was circulated among a group of friends who were associated with the Glasgow School of Art in the early 1890s, including Charles Rennie Mackintosh, his future wife Margaret Macdonald and her sister Frances. Its four volumes are dated '1893', 'April 1894', 'November 1894', and 'Spring 1896'. They contain 33 textual pieces of which 14 are poems, and 104 illustrations ranging from pen and ink drawings, to watercolours, photographs, photogravures and etchings, many produced by significant artists at the beginning of their careers.

The Magazine, with its illustrations, head and tail pieces, essays and poems, has a similar format and range of contents to some other contemporary art and literary journals particularly the Century Guild Hobby Horse (1884-1892) which could have been its inspiration, as one of the Guild's members William Kellock Brown was Glasgow School of Art's modelling master and taught repoussé metalwork to several of the contributors.

From its inception up to the 1940s the four numbers of The Magazine were in the hands of its editor Lucy Raeburn (Mrs Spottiswoode Ritchie). By 1949, however, when it was acquired by the Glasgow School of Art it appears to have passed into the hands of Mrs Ritchie's friend Katharine Cameron Kay, who had also been a contributor.

Thomas Howarth, Charles Rennie Mackintosh's biographer, was the first to note the existence of the volumes earlier in the 1940s when they were still in the possession of Lucy Raeburn and he referred to them as "Scrap Books". Howarth went on to remark that the remarkable watercolours by Mackintosh and the Macdonald sisters were 'trivial and ill-conceived' with 'little real artistic merit' seeing them merely as attempts 'to evolve an original style'. Although one of the volumes, and perhaps more than one, was shown in an exhibition of Mackintosh's work at the Saltire Society in Edinburgh in 1953, by 1968 the significance and quality of the watercolours was being reassessed. For the major centenary exhibition of Mackintosh's career, again in Edinburgh, seven of the illustrations from The Magazine, five by Mackintosh and two by the Macdonald sisters were extracted and shown as separate items. Some of these watercolours have been returned to their relevant pages in the bound volumes but others are still separate items in the Glasgow School of Art's collection of over 300 examples by Mackintosh and his contemporaries.

[Frontispiece], Spring 1896, by Agnes Raeburn

Recent developments

In 2001 the Glasgow School of Art secured Registered status for its museum collection and in 2008 became an Accredited Museum. In 2009 the School's Charles Rennie Mackintosh collection was named as a Recognised Collection of National Significance by Museums Galleries Scotland (MGS) and in 2010 received £36,988 in Recognition grant funding from MGS for its Magazine project. This important award allowed for the full conservation of The Magazine (undertaken by the Book and Paper Conservation Studio at the University of Dundee), and the digitisation of all four volumes (carried out by UK Archiving Ltd, Edinburgh).

The Recognition grant also allowed for the delivery of a new dedicated website, www.gsathemagazine.net designed by Mick Eadie. Here the entire contents of the four volumes (including those watercolours originally removed from their bindings) can be searched on-line and this resource has greatly reduced the need to access the original and increasingly delicate volumes themselves. Additional research on The Magazine project was carried out by George Rawson, David Buri and Peter Trowles (all Glasgow School of Art).

Contact details

For further information on The Magazine, including permission to reproduce any of the images, please contact Peter Trowles, Mackintosh Curator at the Glasgow School of Art (p.trowles@gsa.ac.uk).

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