Glasgow & West Scotland

Mackintosh letter donated to Glasgow School of Art

Mackintosh letter to Cameron Davidson Image copyright Charles Rennie Mackintosh

A letter written by Charles Rennie Mackintosh has been given to the Glasgow School of Art in the aftermath of last year's fire at the building.

The letter, written in 1898, was donated by King Edward VI High School for Girls in Birmingham.

It addresses Cameron Davidson, whose father William Davidson commissioned Mackintosh to build the family home.

The donation was made to the GSA following a call for help in replacing books lost in the fire.

The letter accompanied a book of animals sent as a Christmas gift by Mackintosh.

It formed part of an extensive collection of about 30 books gifted to the Birmingham school by a former headmistress Jean Wilks CBE last year. She had for many years cared for her friend and colleague Maggie Davidson - a granddaughter of Glasgow merchant William Davidson.

Mr Davidson had commissioned Mackintosh to build the family home of Windyhill in 1900.

The letter, which Mr Mackintosh sent to Cameron Davidson who was in France recovering from an illness, wishes him "a jolly Christmas and a very happy new year".

It also included his hopes that the young boy would "soon be well enough to come back and tell us all about your adventures in a foreign land".

What does the letter say?

It reads...

"My Dear Cameron

I am sending you this little book of animals which has been illustrated by a young friend of mine in Glasgow, to wish you a jolly Christmas and a very happy new year.

I hope you will soon be well enough to come back and tell us all about your adventures in a foreign land.

You will write to me and tell me if you get the book safely and what you think of it.

You will let Mrs Davidson see it - and tell her that I also send her my very best wishes.

Your friend,

Uncle Tosh"

Inscribed on the back:

Letter received from Charles Rennie by Wm Cameron Davidson Esq, of Windyhill, Kilmacolm, Renfrewshire, when in the South of France for health reasons as a small boy.

Findlay Mackinnon, English master at King Edward VI High School for Girls, said the school was "delighted" to be handing over the books to Glasgow School of Art.

He said: "Losing so many books in the fire was a real blow to them, but everyone's rallying round to try to provide replacements. Jean would have been delighted to know that her books would go to such a good home."

Librarian at The Glasgow School of Art David Buri said: "This is an incredibly generous gift from the King Edward VI High School for Girls.

"Among the books are many on the life and works of Charles Rennie Mackintosh as well as books with a direct link to Mackintosh and the Davidsons.

"Particularly interesting is a late 19th Century book on the Japanese artist and printmaker Katsushika Hokusai with an inscription to the Davidsons from Mackintosh."

He added: "As is well-known Mackintosh was very interested in Japanese design and Japanese influences can be seen in his designs for the Glasgow School of Art library.

"The dedication suggests that the book was a Christmas gift to the Davidsons in 1899. We like to think that this was Mackintosh sharing his passion for Japanese design with one of his friends and patrons."

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