By the end of the 19th century, Glasgow
was a leading industrial powerhouse and the sixth largest city in
Europe. By the 1890s, Glasgow School of Art had established itself as a
leading centre for both contemporary painting and the decorative arts
under the direction of Francis Newbery its influential headmaster.
Charles Rennie Mackintosh, a former pupil of the School was the leading
protagonist of the so-called Glasgow Style in the decorative arts.
Alongside him, artist/designers such as Margaret and Frances Macdonald,
Herbert MacNair, George Walton, Ann Macbeth and Jessie King introduced a
more controlled less floral approach to their designs in metal, wood,
glass, textiles and illustration, in contrast to their Art Nouveau
colleagues in mainland Europe.
Through high-profile exhibitions and features in The Studio and
Dekorative Kunst,Glasgow designers, in particular Mackintosh, became
increasingly influential amongst the Secessionists in Austria and
Germany during the early years of the 20th century. Mackintosh's
buildings and interiors, especially Glasgow School of Art, the Willow
Tea Room, and The Lighthouse reflect the energy, spirit of innovation
and confidence inspired by the great industrial wealth generated in
Glasgow in that period.
This heritage combined with the city's vibrant contemporary visual
arts scene helped to win for Glasgow the accolade of European City of
Culture in 1990 and of UK City of Architecture and Design in 1999.