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"The White Rose and the Red Rose" 1902

DES MACKINTOSH, Margaret Macdonald; (English; 1864-1933) This gesso panel formed part of an exhibition setting 'The Rose Boudoir' which the Mackintoshes exhibited at a major international exhibition in Turin in 1902. This is their duplicate of the exhibition piece. The panel is one of the finest surviving examples of Macdonald's work in gesso, retaining its original finish and ornament. Gesso, a plaster-based medium, is applied to a support - here burlap, and worked to a variety of finish, from the broad swirls of the background to the porcelain-like finish of the faces. The fine lines were piped onto the surface like icing. The symbolic meaning of the subject is not clear, but the rose is generally accepted as a symbol of love and art in the Mackintoshes' work. Margaret Macdonald was one of the most outstanding women artists in Glasgow and arguably in the UK at the turn of the last century. Her achievements with the use of gesso- plaster- for decorative panels were among the most creative of their time. The image shows the item on public display in The Mackintosh House at the Hunterian Art Gallery.