- Museum number
Tapering candlestick; ebonised wood and hand-raised silver sconce; four shafts rise from a low pyramidal base and are joined at the top by a silver ring on which the sconce rests; flat-section shafts taper inwards and are inlaid with mother-of-pearl squares at the base; the sconce has a small bowl with wide rim and a small hole in its base.
- Production date
- 1904 (designed and made)
Diameter: 6.40 centimetres (ring that holds sconce)
Diameter: 9.20 centimetres (sconce)
Height: 31.10 centimetres
Length: 15.40 centimetres (base)
Width: 14.80 centimetres (base)
- Curator's comments
- See also 1981,0604.1
Text from J. Rudoe, 'Decorative Arts 1850-1950. A catalogue of the British Museum collection'. 2nd ed. no.148.
The tapering candlestick designed in 1904 for Hill House, Helensburgh, owned by the publisher Walter Blackie; the vertical candlestick (1981,6-4,1) designed in the same year for Hous'hill, Nitshill, Glasgow, owned by Miss Catherine Cranston. A number of candlesticks of each design were made for their respective houses, but these two examples, one of each design, were made for Mackintosh himself.
Although not listed in the catalogue of the 1933 exhibition, the candlesticks are clearly visible in an archive photograph of the exhibition in the University of Glasgow Mackintosh Collection (illustrated in Billcliffe, R., 'C. R. Mackintosh, the complete furniture, furniture drawings and interior designs', 3rd edn 1986, 203, no. 1909.E). Kennedy paid £3 3s. for the two candlesticks (information from the receipt book of William Meldrum, Meldrum Papers, Mitchell Library, Glasgow). W. Meldrum was secretary of the Memorial Exhibition. The candlesticks were lent by Kennedy to the Andrew McLaren Young, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Centenary exhibition, Edinburgh Festival, 1968. (no. 254); from Kennedy's grandson, they passed to the Fine Art Society (London 1981, 'Architect-Designers, Pugin to Mackintosh', no. 61). A second non-matching pair was included in the 1968 Mackintosh Centenary exhibition, Edinburgh (no. 253), lent by Mrs Norman Walker, nee Blackie, apparently by family descent, suggesting that W. Blackie owned candlesticks of each design. See also Billcliffe 1986, no. 1904.18.
Both candlestick designs appear in Mackintosh's sketches for Hill House and Hous'hill, each design shown in its respective house. The sketch for a writing cabinet for Walter Blackie (Fig. 22), dated 1904, with the address 140 Bath Street, Glasgow, shows a tapering candlestick on top of the cabinet, the doors of which were designed to be inlaid with squares of mother-of-pearl, as on the candlesticks (University of Glasgow Mackintosh Collection, ref. no. M(e)5; Billcliffe 1986, 156, no. D. 1904.16). All three items in this drawing - the chair, writing desk and candlesticks - were duplicated by Mackintosh for his own home.
Two candlesticks of the Hill House design are owned by the Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow; both have been previously converted for use with electricity and have holes at the base of the sconces, as on the British Museum examples, and there are further holes in the bases for the wire to pass through. At some later date the wires were removed and the original spikes to hold the candles replaced in the sconces.
The sketch for the Blue Bedroom at Hous'hill (Fig. 23) shows two pairs of vertical candlesticks placed in the alcoves above the bedside cupboards and on the mantelpiece (University of Glasgow Mackintosh Collection, ref. no. M(f)8; Billcliffe 1986, 170, no. D.1904.65). For a contemporary photograph of the White Bedroom showing the candlestick used to contain flowers, see Billcliffe, 164, no. 1904.1, and 264, no. 1904.L for a photograph with the candlesticks in situ in Hous'hill, again in the White Bedroom; see also 268, no. 1904.94 where five surviving examples of this candlestick are recorded, in addition to this one. Two of these are currently on display at Hill House, now owned by the National Trust (although this is not the house for which they were designed). See also The Studio Yearbook, 1907, 60.
Further information is provided by the bill books of Honeyman & Keppie, the Glasgow firm of architects which Mackintosh entered in 1889 and in which he became a partner in 1901. In the case of Hous'hill, it is difficult to know what the various quotes for candlesticks and their silver cups refer to, owing to a second candlestick design that was used at Hous'hill which has one central strut (Billcliffe 1986, 173, no. 1904.83). Under the bills for John Cochrane (husband of Catherine Cranston) at Hous'hill, David Hislop is recorded as quoting £1 14s. for four cups at 8s. 6d. each and £2 10s. for four cups at 12s. 6d. each for the Blue Bedroom, on 21 July 1904. On the same day Alex Martin is listed as quoting for wooden candlesticks for the Blue Bedroom, but no prices are given. On 6 December 1904 Hislop was paid 17s. for two cups (i.e. 8s. 6d. each) and £1 17s. 6d. for three cups (i.e. 12s. 6d. each). On 17 December 1904 Martin was paid £1 17s. 6d. for three candlesticks at 12s. 6d. each and for two candlesticks he received a total of 11s. (i.e. 5s. 6d. each). The cheaper candlestick must be the single-strut version; thus it appears that four of this type were commissioned but two paid for. Of the four-strut version, three were paid for, though Hislop's quote suggests that four were commissioned (University of Glasgow Mackintosh Collection, photographs of Honeyman & Keppie bill books, pp. 62-3).
Under the bills for Blackie at Hill House, Alex Martin quoted £2 10s. 6d. for three candlesticks and David Hislop quoted £1 17s. iod. for three silver cups for the same on 4 February 1905. Payment for the three cups was received on 29 March 1905 and for the three candlesticks on 27 April (bill books, p. 74). Alex Martin ran a wholesale cabinet-making and upholstery business in Glasgow from 1898 to about 1909. Mackintosh was a major client from 1903 to 1905 (Glasgow 1984, Art Gallery & Museum, Kelvingrove, 'The Glasgow Style 1890-1920', 39).
The Hous'hill candlestick cost £1 5s., the Hill House version cost £1 9s. 4d. So when Kennedy bought them in 1933 for £3 3s., he paid just under 9s. more than they had cost in 1904-5.
Information supplementary to Rudoe 1994:
See also M. Collins, 'Towards Post-Modernism, Design since 1851', London, British Museum, revised ed. 1994, fig. 39.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2000 14 Mar-26 Jun, France, Paris, Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, 1900
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- On Mackintosh's death in 1928 both candlesticks (1981,6-4,1 and 2) passed to his wife; they were included in the Mackintosh Memorial Exhibition at the McLellan Galleries, Glasgow, in 1933, where they were purchased by Alexander Kennedy, in whose family they remained until 1981, when they were exhibited at the Fine Art Society, London (London 1981, no. 61).
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number