Key work by Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh bought

  • 16 August 2011

The Art Fund has helped the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art to buy a rare and beautiful masterpiece, The Mysterious Garden, by Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh.

The Mysterious Garden,1911 by Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh © Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

The Art Fund has helped the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art to buy the rare and beautiful masterpiece The Mysterious Garden by Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh. This style is typical of Macdonald Mackintosh’s work and that of other members of the Glasgow School in the 1890s.


The ethereal nature of the work evokes a dream-like state, rendering an almost child-like interior world of the imagination. Depicting a woman with her eyes closed and perhaps asleep, her voluminous dress floats like a sea around her. Above her stands a row of eight heads or masks which are, perhaps, part of her dream. It is thought that the work was inspired by the fairy play, The Blue Bird, by the Belgian poet and playwright, Maurice Maeterlinck, which was performed in Glasgow in 1910.

Birthday present

The acquisition has been made in celebration of the Gallery’s 50th anniversary which took place in 2010. The Mysterious Garden was purchased for £230,000 from the Fine Art Society, London with the assistance of £115,000 from the Art Fund. Stephen Deuchar, Director of the Art Fund said, “The scarcity of works of this kind by Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh means that it is a real coup that the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art has been able to add this haunting watercolour to its collection. It is a much deserved 50th birthday present to the gallery.”

On display

This is the first work by Mackintosh to enter the collections of the National Galleries of Scotland and will join the works of her husband Charles Rennie Mackintosh. You can see the painting on display until 16 October 2011 at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.

Find out more about The Mysterious Garden on the Art Funded page.