Macdonald (1864–1933) was one of the most gifted and
successful women artists in Scotland at the turn of the
century. Her output was wide-ranging and included
watercolors, graphics, metalwork and textiles. Arguably
her greatest achievements were in gesso, a plaster-based
medium, which she used to make decorative panels for
furniture and interiors.
born in England and came to Glasgow with her family around
1890. She enrolled as a day student at Glasgow School of
Art where she met Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Herbert McNair.
She left the School in the mid 1890s and set up an independent
studio in the city with her sister, Frances.
worked together until Frances's marriage to McNair and
departure for Liverpool in 1899. Mackintosh and Macdonald
married in 1900. Together with Mackintosh, her sister, Frances,
and MacNair, they formed the group known as “The Four.”
They worked in close association and were pioneers of the so-called
was key to Margaret Macdonald's creativity. The
partnership with her sister in the 1890s produced
metalwork, graphics, and a series of book illustrations.
Her collaboration with Mackintosh comprised primarily the
production of panels for interiors and furniture, notably
for the tea rooms and The Hill House. The precise nature of
their partnership is difficult to define, because little
documentation survives. However it is certain that
Macdonald played an important role in the development of
the decorative, symbolic interiors of the early 1900s,
including the House for an Art Lover portfolio, the Rose
Boudoir, Turin and the Willow Tea Rooms. Ill health and the
strain of Mackintosh's declining career contributed
to a decline in her own output and no work after 1921 is
known. Macdonald died in London in 1933, five years after