Glasgow: Second City of Empire

17th – 21st September 2023

Glasgow has evolved over the last couple of decades to become one of Britain’s most intriguing metropolises bursting with culture. Glasgow flourished, prospered and expanded in the 19th century, by the end of which it was often referred to as the “Second City” of the British Empire. Glasgow’s wealth and ambition grew through its embrace of the Industrial revolution, a lively trading port and quality ship building. Victorian Glasgow encouraged the talent of one highly original architect, Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson, who brought his love of classical Greek architecture together with the newly available building technology of cast-iron structures. We will also celebrate the work of another innovative Scottish artist and architect, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, who pioneered in creating art nouveau designs, known as the Glasgow Style, which celebrated function and organic curves.

We will be staying in the beautiful Hotel Du Vin set in a tree-lined Victorian terrace in the fashionable West End. The hotel still has all its original features – oak-panelled walls, open fireplaces, sweeping staircases and stained-glass windows, one of which was commissioned by Sir William Burrell when he lived there in 1896. This trip will be a mix of great architecture, paintings, prints and the decorative arts. We know of excellent restaurants and there will of course be some whisky tasting.


Sunday 17th September
We will arrive in time for lunch in the lovely dining room at the hotel. We will head in to town, where we will get to know Glasgow’s architectural protagonists, Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson and Charles Rennie Mackintosh who were working across the 19th and 20th centuries respectively. Each pioneering in their field to create bold, playful and innovative architectural propositions. In the centre of town, we will discover several of their buildings, including the Grosvenor building and Buck’s head. We will also see, among other things, Mackintosh’s building he designed to house the headquarters for the Herald newspaper and his embroidery-like design for the Daily Record printing works. We will end the day at a good restaurant nearby the hotel.

Monday 18th September
We will start the day at the Burrell collection, a fascinating museum set in the heart of Pollock Country Park, housing one of the greatest privately amassed art collections. Sir William Burrell made his fortune as a shipping merchant which allowed him to pursue his passion of collecting art and antiques. In 1944 he and his wife Lady Constance gifted their extraordinary collection to the city of Glasgow. The museum houses over 9000 objects spanning 6000 years of history, but we will be focusing on the world class tapestry collection and enchanting stained-glass windows, stopping for a coffee in between.

After a light lunch in the museum’s restaurant overlooking the park, there will be a chance to explore more of the collection independently, allowing individual interests to be followed. We will then make our way towards Holmwood House, where we have a private visit. It is a brilliant example of Thomson’s Greek architectural designs on a domestic scale. Thomson designed the house for paper magnate James Couper and his wife in 1857–8. The house delights with cupolas, columns, symmetry and opulent decoration all of which echo the colours and designs found in Ancient Greek temples. Supper will be at an excellent place we know.

Tuesday 19th September
Our focus today will be Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Art Nouveau and Art Deco artist and architect. Our first visit of the day will be to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum which houses one of Europe’s great art collections, including a gallery dedicated to Mackintosh and the Glasgow Style, offering us the perfect introduction to his work. We shall also look at works by Margaret MacDonald, Rembrandt, Salvador Dali, Whistler, Van Gogh, the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, as well as their equivalents, the Scottish Colourists (who should be better known). For lunch, we will dine in style at an award-winning restaurant nearby.

The afternoon will be spent at the Hunterian Art Gallery where we hope to have a private view of their Whistler and Mackintosh collections of paintings, drawings and prints. We will also see the main rooms from the Mackintosh’s sumptuous Glasgow home, which have been carefully reassembled within the gallery. Mackintosh and his wife Margaret, also an artist, designed the house together from the furniture right down to the cutlery. We will end the day with dinner at a good place near to the hotel.

Wednesday 20th September
We will head out to Helensburgh, the handsome Victorian seaside town just an hour outside of Glasgow. Here, we will continue our exploration into the work of Charles and Margaret Mackintosh during a visit to Hill House, which they designed for Glasgow publisher Walter Blackie and is considered to be their finest domestic masterpiece. Now in the care of the National Trust for Scotland, the house is undergoing a pioneering conservation project. The house is nestled inside a protective steel frame structure designed to protect the house from the rain, allowing the walls to dry and prevent further damage. The steel structure surrounding the house also allows visitors to gain new perspectives on the building by using the walkways over and around the house.

We will have a good lunch in Helensburgh before returning to Glasgow where we will move our focus to Thomson for the afternoon. We will visit Millbrae Crescent, an elegant row of terraced houses exemplifying Thomson’s typical use of Egyptian-derived columns and ornamentation, as well as St Vincent Street Church, another iconic example of Thomson’s style. There will be some time to explore the area individually before regrouping for a whisky tasting and dinner.

Thursday 21st September
We will spend our final morning together at the iconic art nouveau tearooms, Mackintosh at The Willow. These are the only surviving Tea Rooms where Mackintosh had complete design control over both the interior and exterior, and is one of the finest examples of a complete art nouveau scheme. In 2018 Mackintosh at the Willow reopened after an extensive restoration under taken by a team of specialists including stained glass window conservers, furniture makers, and metalwork craftspeople. This stunning building retains its 1903 function as a tea room, which we will sample after our private tour and have a light lunch of sandwiches and cakes in the Salon de Luxe. The perfect way to end our trip before our journey home.

Further Details

The trip will be led by Dr Richard Stemp and Clare McLeod. Richard is one of our most experienced tutors and has led courses for Artemisia for many years. Clare lives in Glasgow and is an experienced Art Historian and Researcher. She provides talks and tours around art collections in Scotland, as well as organising private access tours to visitors on behalf of Glasgow Museums.

We will stay at Hotel Du Vin, One Devonshire Gardens, in the fashionable West End. The hotel still has all its original features – oak-panelled walls, open fireplaces, sweeping staircases and stained-glass windows, one of which was commissioned by Sir William Burrell when he lived there in 1896.

We will meet at the hotel in time for lunch on Sunday 17th September at 13.00 and we will finish the course at the hotel at 15.30 on Thursday 21st September.

We will travel in comfort in a coach for trips outside the city centre.

We book dinner for the group each evening and we divide the bill equally between us, however these are by no means compulsory and you are of course free to make your own arrangements.

The fees are £1900 which includes accommodation and breakfast, all lunches, transport when connected with teaching, entrance fees, whisky tasting, tuition, reading lists and local advice. Single occupancy supplement in a double room is £180. Not included are all suppers and travel insurance.

To Register

Please complete the online application form and pay a deposit of £600 per person via bank transfer.

Please call 01379 871800 or email [email protected] if you have any queries.

Registration Form

Terms & Conditions