The Mackintosh Trail
The Mackintosh Trail
The Charles Rennie Mackintosh Association has the heavy responsibility of maintaining the Mackintosh Trail.
The 30 “stands” supporting the reproductions of the watercolors (out of a total of more than 40) have suffered deterioration with time. Bad weather such as wind, rain, sea breezes and especially the sun, and sometimes vandalism, are responsible.
Restoration work is gradually being undertaken and you will be able to find progress of this project on this site…
Lovers of and seekers for Mackintosh art will be able to pursue the route that Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his wife Margaret followed to discover Roussillon during the period 1923-1927 at the end of their lives. They travelled this region with the train, the little yellow train in the mountain and probably also by bus. The in situ reproductions of a series of about thirty watercolors were installed on supports facing the current landscapes. They represent natural landscapes: flora, farms, villages, rocks, fortifications, seashores.
Chronology of the Mackintosh’s route in the Eastern Pyrenees
In this section, the watercolours are not presented in chronological order but are grouped geographically: those of the Côte Vermeille (Port-Vendres and Collioure), those of Vallespir (Amélie-les Bains and Palalda), those of Conflent and Haut – Conflent, (Ille sur Tet, Mont-Louis and its surroundings) following the arrangement of the supports in the landscape.
It is therefore useful to present the chronology of the wanderings of Mackintosh in Roussillon. This is obscure in places. Indeed, no diary was kept by Margaret and Toshie. One can therefore only trace their route by comparing information gleaned from the letters they wrote to each other or their friends, or thanks to the presence of a date on some of the watercolours, especially those of flowers.
The chronology below is based on that presented in the catalogue of the 2005 exhibition “Mackintosh in France”, published under the responsibility of Professor Pamela Robertson and Philip Long [p. 111 & 112] see summary bibliography
In 1923, with the proceeds of money from the sale of their home and a small inheritance from Margaret’s mother, the Mackintoshs decided to take a holiday. They had been encouraged by their friends, notably the Ihlees, who lived in Collioure. It was undoubtedly to Collioure that they first went in late 1923.
In the winter of 1923-1924 they stayed in Amelie-les-Bains in the Vallespir (Tech Valley). They wandered through the green countryside and visited the surroundings: the watercolors produced were Mimosa, Palalda, Mont-Alba.
In the spring of 1924, it is believed that they went to the Vermeille Coast to Port-Vendres and/or Collioure: a fishing port with many Catalan boats and the meeting place of famous painters. Here Mackintosh produced 3 undated watercolours: A SOUTHERN TOWN, THE SUMMER PALACE OF THE QUEENS OF ARAGON, COLLIOURE.
They returned to London from September to November 1924.
They decided to settle in Ille-sur-Tet from December 1924 to May 1925, and visited the surroundings: 4 paintings date from this period: L’HERE DE MALLET (rock formation called “les orgues” “the organs”), BOULETERNERE, A SOUTHERN FARM, BLANC ONTOINE.
In June and July 1925, they discovered the Haut-Conflent, taking the yellow train to the mountains and Mont-Louis, a small fortified town, the citadel of Vauban.
Here C R Mackintosh effected many floral paintings (dated 1925) and landscapes (undated works):
MOUNTAIN LANDSCAPE (2), FETGES, SLATE ROOFS, THE BOULDERS, MOUNTAIN VILLAGE. Further along, they also visited La Llagonne where 2 watercolours were painted: THE CHURCH OF LA LLAGONNE and THE VILLAGE OF LA LLAGONNE.
Autumn 1925 was probably spent in Ille-sur-Tet or Montpellier.
The winter of 1925-26 saw them settle on the Vermeille Coast in Port-Vendres at the Hôtel du Commerce, where they stayed for 2 years and had every opportunity from their balcony to see the liners and cargo ships in the port.
13 watercolours were painted there:
PORT-VENDRES, THE FORT MAILLY, THE ROCK, THE ROAD THROUGH THE ROCKS, THE FORT, THE LIGHTHOUSE, LA RUE DU SOLEIL, A SOUTHERN PORT, PORT-VENDRES, QUAI DES DOUANES, STEAMER MOORED AT QUAYSIDE, LA VILLE, THE LITTLE BAY, FORT DE LA MAURESQUE.
In May 1927, Margaret returned alone to London until June to seek some treatment.
During the summers of 1926 and 1927, it is believed that they took refuge in Mont-Louis, to escape the heat of the coast.
In autumn 1927 the couple left Port-Vendres to return to London.
To know more rea: Mackintosh’ life and work
The original watercolors are scattered in different countries around the world, mainly in the UK. All trace of some has unfortunately been lost and to our knowledge no original painting has been found in France.
Currently, only the Mackintosh Way in Port-Vendres, Collioure and Amélie-les-Bains are accessible on this site.
The Mont-Louis Way will be put on line once operational.