Everything comes up roses for Mrs Mac
A detail from one of two painted panels by Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh.
By Tim Cornwell
A PAINTED panel by the wife of the architect and designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh yesterday set a world auction record for a Scottish work of art.
The White Rose and the Red Rose, painted in 1902 by Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh, sold for £1,700,500 in London yesterday. Bought by a private US collector, what was called a consummate example of the Glasgow avant-garde smashed the expected price of between £200,000 and £300,000.
A companion panel, The Heart of the Rose, sold for a more modest £490,900, though that was double its estimate. Mackintosh, who lived from 1865 to 1933, was an artist whose design work was called one of the defining features of the "Glasgow Style".
The Scotsman's art critic, Duncan MacMillan, said: "It would be a very fine thing on your wall. It's a beautiful thing by a rare artist of high reputation."
Her artwork appears to have doubled the previous auction record for a Scottish artist, set by the former coalminer Jack Vettriano when his painting The Singing Butler sold at a Sotheby's auction in 2004 for £744,800.
Featured in a Christie's auction of 20th-century decorative art and design, there was little hint that the Mackintosh panels would break records, but they have a rich history. The panels were shown at the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative Art in Turin, Italy, in 1902, picked by Francis Newbury, head of the Glasgow School of Art.
They featured in the exhibition's "Rose Boudoir", in a collaboration of Mackintosh and his wife. It was seen as the height of the couple's work together.
They both trained under Mr Newbury, who also commissioned Mackintosh to design the GSA, one of his most famous buildings. After Turin, the panels were bought by Fritz Wärndorfer, the famous patron of the Viennese avant-garde and an admirer of the Mackintoshes.
Philippe Garner, a Christie's specialist, said: "We are thrilled to have set a world auction record. There was fiercely competitive international bidding throughout the sale in the room, on the telephone and online." The Christie's sale of art nouveau, art deco and early modernist work totalled £3,666,650.
THE FINE ART OF BREAKING RECORDS
WHEN Jack Vettriano's The Singing Butler, left, was sold for £744,800 in 2004 it was described by Sotheby's as "the record for any Scottish painting".
Sotheby's old rival, Christie's, appears to have smashed that record yesterday with the sale of The White Rose and the Red Rose for £1,700,500, claiming "a new world auction record for any Scottish work of art". The Scottish colourist SJ Peploe was the closest contender behind Vettriano in the price wars, with top works commanding about £500,000. In 2007 a painting by Scottish-born Peter Doig sold for £5.7 million, a record for a living artist, but Doig left Edinburgh as a baby for the Caribbean and North America.