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Glasgow and after

The McNairs failed to re-establish careers in Glasgow. The one surviving highlight is a group of remarkable watercolours by Macdonald.

In 1921, Macdonald died in Glasgow, possibly as a suicide. McNair did not work again and retreated to Argyllshire in the north-west of Scotland; he died there in 1955.

The McNairs’ careers had been brief, their personal lives touched latterly by setbacks and sadness. Their lasting impact on the cultural face of Liverpool was modest, and the surviving corpus of work is small.

But during the 1890s and early 1900s, their imaginations flourished across an impressive range of media, their work was published and exhibited internationally, and provided an important stimulus for the emergence of a distinctive ‘Glasgow Style’.

If only for McNair’s unprecedented early furniture, the interiors at Oxford Street and Turin, and Macdonald’s later watercolours, the McNairs should be seen as among the most consistently inventive and individual artist-designers of that period in Britain.