This information is ©
The Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, University of Glasgow 2017
Candlestick mid 1890s
CRE MACDONALD, Margaret; (English 1864 - 1933) and MACDONALD, Frances (English 1873 - 1921)
copper and enamel
45.8 x 32.0 (base diameter)
engraved: 'MARGARET AND FRANCES MACDONALD'
Metalwork by the Macdonald sisters, either individually or collaboratively, is extremely rare. From both careers only some 17 items survive, in addition to this candlestick. The candlestick belongs to the sisters' most productive period of metalworking - both had largely ceased working with metal by 1903, with the one notable exception of Frances Macdonald's late mirror of 1921 (see GLAHA 41313).
The candlestick's scale and bold design suggest that this was a display piece, conceived to make a powerful visual impact. There are a number of exhibitions for which no listings of exhibits have been traced and for which this piece might have been intended, such as an exhibition of Glasgow School of Art work in 1895 at L'Oeuvre Artistique, Liège.
This is the only known collaborative candlestick by the Macdonald sisters. Collaboration was a central part of their philosophy, an approach closely allied to the English Arts and Crafts Movement, the teaching of the Glasgow School of Art, and the practice of many of the Glasgow Girls. Not only did the sisters design their metalwork they also made the individual pieces. There does not appear to have been a clear division of responsibilities in the production of their work; both were skilled at design and making.
The technique is not as accomplished as later pieces but strikingly illustrates their ambition both in terms of design and making. It demonstrates a range of skills, in repoussé work, welding, fixing, and enamelling, and is one of the earliest examples of their use of enamel.
The one known design for the sconce is in the Hunterian- GLAHA 41952.
The candlestick was purchased with the support of the Alexander and Margaret Johnstone Endowment Fund, the National Fund for Acquisitions and the Art Fund, 2011.
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