'Salvaged' collection is offered for 1m pounds

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A MAN who, by today's standards, paid next to nothing for furniture and drawings by Charles Rennie Mackintosh at a time when the influential 19th- century Scottish designer and architect was largely forgotten, is selling his collection at Christie's next month for an estimated pounds 1m.

The Wassail (pictured right), a watercolour design for the Ingram Street Tea Rooms in Glasgow, is one of 150 works by Mackintosh amassed over the past 50 years by Dr Thomas Howarth, Professor Emeritus of Architecture at the University of Toronto. He began collecting while researching his PhD thesis for the University of Glasgow.

It is only in the past 25 years that Mackintosh has received widespread appreciation as a major influence on European design and a prominent figure in the international Art Nouveau movement. As well as salvaging drawings and sketchbooks discarded by the designer's former colleagues, Dr Howarth wrote the definitive book about him and was instrumental in developing the collections at the Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, University of Glasgow, and the Glasgow School of Art - the only collections that can rival his own in depth and range.

But he said: ''I never set out to make a collection . . . You might think this is splendid. But I could have had items of greater value.' He was, he added, more concerned that Mackintosh should be represented in public collections.

Works to be sold at Christie's in London on 17 February range from exquisite furniture to highly-finished watercolours for Mackintosh's most celebrated commissions and reflect his refined eye and superlative skill as a draftsman.

There is, for example, the 1899 tall chair, with oval back rail designed to overcome space problems at the Luncheon Room of the Argyle Street Tearoom, which became one of his most recognisable design motifs (estimate, pounds 30,000 to pounds 40,000). A 1904 writing cabinet that shows Mackintosh's first extensive use of mother-of-pearl inlay, is expected to fetch up to pounds 300,000.