Washstand thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
British Galleries, Room 125, Edwin and Susan Davies Gallery

Washstand

after 1894 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Object Type
Washstands were included in bedroom suites before the wide-scale introduction of separate bathrooms in British homes in the early 20th century. Large washbowls and water jugs were placed on the top, which was tiled to protect it from water damage.

Trading
This was part of a suite sold by Liberty & Co., the London department store founded in 1875. Liberty's furniture was influenced by Arts and Crafts principles - honest, plain construction and decoration, and the use of solid oak. Liberty's furniture was often made using machines, and some structural and finishing processes were mechanised. Certain furniture ranges were advertised as 'hand-carved', although simpler forms, such as this washstand, were suitable for mechanised production. This kept down costs and made them more affordable than furniture by fine craftsmen, and within the reach of a broad middle-class market. Suites were marketed with names like 'Athelstan' and 'Ethelbert' that evoked 'Old England'.

Design & Designing
The heart motif and romantically old-fashioned and rustic design associated Liberty's furniture with the fashionable international art movement Art Nouveau. This was known in Italy as 'Stile Liberty'. So copied were Liberty's designs that the company protected them with patents. This design was patented in 1894.

People
The design of this washstand is attributed to Leonard Wyburd, who ran the Liberty design studio. The tiles were supplied by William De Morgan (1839-1917). The washstand was made in the cabinet-making workshop of James Thallon, which Liberty's had bought in 1887.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Oak, with iron fittings and ceramic tiles
Brief Description
Washstand by Liberty & Co., oak with iron fittings and inlaid ceramic tiles, Britain, after 1894.
Physical Description
Washstand, oak with iron fittings and inlaid green ceramic tiles.
Dimensions
  • Height: 121cm
  • Width: 107cm
  • Depth: 57cm
Marks and Inscriptions
Tiles stamped: 'DE MORGAN' on reverse; labelled on inside of door: 'Liberty & Co Ltd / London W'
Gallery Label
British Galleries: Liberty & Co. were responsible for a very specific Arts and Crafts style of furniture which they supplied in both machine and handmade finishes. Robust in design, it was frequently made of oak, with decorative cut outs and metal hinges. This typical example, which is part of a bedroom suite, was registered with the Patent Office in 1894.(27/03/2003)
Credit line
Given by Mr J. E. H. Simon
Object history
Probably designed by Leonard F. Wyburd, for the Liberty Furniture Studio; tiles designed by William De Morgan (born in London, 1839, died there in 1917) and made by his firm in London
Summary
Object Type
Washstands were included in bedroom suites before the wide-scale introduction of separate bathrooms in British homes in the early 20th century. Large washbowls and water jugs were placed on the top, which was tiled to protect it from water damage.

Trading
This was part of a suite sold by Liberty & Co., the London department store founded in 1875. Liberty's furniture was influenced by Arts and Crafts principles - honest, plain construction and decoration, and the use of solid oak. Liberty's furniture was often made using machines, and some structural and finishing processes were mechanised. Certain furniture ranges were advertised as 'hand-carved', although simpler forms, such as this washstand, were suitable for mechanised production. This kept down costs and made them more affordable than furniture by fine craftsmen, and within the reach of a broad middle-class market. Suites were marketed with names like 'Athelstan' and 'Ethelbert' that evoked 'Old England'.

Design & Designing
The heart motif and romantically old-fashioned and rustic design associated Liberty's furniture with the fashionable international art movement Art Nouveau. This was known in Italy as 'Stile Liberty'. So copied were Liberty's designs that the company protected them with patents. This design was patented in 1894.

People
The design of this washstand is attributed to Leonard Wyburd, who ran the Liberty design studio. The tiles were supplied by William De Morgan (1839-1917). The washstand was made in the cabinet-making workshop of James Thallon, which Liberty's had bought in 1887.
Bibliographic Reference
Bennett, Daryl, LIberty's Furiture 1875-1915. The Birth of Modern Interior Design. Woodbridge, Antique Collectors' Club, 2012 (ISBN 978-1-85149-689-1), p. 141, fig. 4.113.
Collection
Accession Number
W.19-1984

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record createdNovember 4, 2002
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