The Golden Heart

WAG 1997.13


Frances MacDonald attended the Glasgow School of Art from 1890 with her sister Margaret (1864 - 1933). Whilst here she was encouraged by the teachings of the School's director, Francis Newbery (1855 -1946), to pursue new ideas and creative innovation. She developed a highly stylised, Symbolist-influenced style which is evoked in this drawing through the long, sinewy figures, dark colours, and floral imagery. Both Frances and Margaret leaned towards the mystic and even sinister in their work, so much so that they were nicknamed the 'Spook School'. This drawing forms a pair with 'The Gift of Doves' (WAG 1997.14) by Herbert MacNair (1868 - 1955), whom Macdonald had married in 1899. Taken together, the two drawings show the close working sympathy and cross-pollination of ideas between Macdonald and MacNair. Their styles were distinct but complimentary. When Macdonald died in 1921, MacNair was broken by her loss, destroying much of both his own work and hers.