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Hunterian Acquires Important Glasgow Style Candlestick and Expressionist Portrait
The striking candlestick was designed and made by the Macdonald sisters in the mid 1890s.

GLASGOW.- The Hunterian at the University of Glasgow has recently boosted its Mackintosh and Expressionist collections with help from the Art Fund and the National Fund for Acquisitions.

The Hunterian is home to one of the finest university collections in the world and is one of Scotland’s most important cultural assets. It has now secured two important additions to this internationally renowned collection: a rare copper and enamel candlestick by Margaret and Frances Macdonald and a portrait by Expressionist painter, Marie-Louise von Motesiczky.

The striking candlestick was designed and made by the Macdonald sisters in the mid 1890s. Measuring 45.8 cm in height, the rare item is composed of a round base, and a smaller circular drip tray, held together by two elongated stems. The copper is covered with repoussé decoration, whilst oval enamelled cabuchons add a finishing touch. The item is engraved with the signature: ‘MARGARET MACDONALD AND FRANCES MACDONALD’.

The previously unrecorded candlestick emerged at auction in Edinburgh in 2010 and is an outstanding example of the Macdonald sisters’ craftsmanship, produced in Glasgow at the height of their collaboration. The Hunterian owns the one known design for the object.

This is a significant acquisition for the Hunterian, which is home to the largest single holding of the work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and to The Mackintosh House, the reassembled interiors from his Glasgow home. The candlestick cost a total of £100,000. Funding was provided by the Art Fund (£65,000), the National Fund for Acquisitions (£20,000) and the William and Margaret Johnstone Endowment Fund (£15,000).

The portrait, by the Austrian Expressionist Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, is an excellent example of Expressionist painting. It depicts an elderly lady sitting at a table, her arched eyebrows and elongated facial shape mirrored in the indented patterns on her chair. The sitter is Fraülein Engelhardt, a lady who regularly visited Motesiczky’s flat in Vienna as a companion to the artist’s widowed mother.

The portrait will complement The Hunterian’s major holding of German Expressionist prints. Costing a total of £28,000. the Art Fund and McCallum Endowment Fund both gave £10,000 towards the purchase and the National Fund for Acquisitions gave £8,000.

Stephen Deuchar, Director of the Art Fund, said: “This beautifully crafted candlestick belongs in Glasgow, the home of the Mackintoshes, and we’re sure it will delight the public when it goes on show. The Motesiczky portrait is visually arresting, with its harmonious composition and attention to facial expression, and we’re pleased it will now be seen alongside other Expressionist works. We’d like to thank all the individuals who support us; it’s thanks to them that we were able to support purchases such as these for UK museums and galleries.”

Both items will go on public view in 2012 following a major refurbishment of The Hunterian’s permanent art displays.

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