Burges Washstand

Washstand
1879 (made)
Burges Washstand thumbnail 1
Burges Washstand thumbnail 2
+5
images
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
British Galleries, Room 122
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Object Type
William Burges (1827-1881) disliked Georgian furniture of the 18th and early 19th centuries. This washstand, designed by him, epitomises how he thought furniture should look. Brightly painted, using rich materials and with complex fitments and references to literature and myth, the washstand was nonetheless highly functional. It has a water tank in the upper castellated section with a tap. The marble basin, inlaid with silver fish motifs, is fitted with a tap in the form of a bronze animal. The basin swivels so that the dirty water can be tipped into a bucket in the cupboard below.

Places
The Tower House, in Melbury Road, London, was the home of Burges from 1878 until his death in 1881. He designed every aspect of the house himself. The outside of the house was in the Reformed Gothic style, while the inside was decorated in the most elaborate fashion. This washstand was made for the Guest Chamber, of which a visitor wrote, 'The whole chamber is like an ancient shrine or reliquary'.

People
William Burges was an architect as well as a designer of furniture, metalwork and jewellery. His most important projects include Cardiff Castle and Castell Coch, near Cardiff, in Wales. His style was heavily influenced by medieval art. He never married, was a freemason and a collector of armour, and was described by the wife of his patron as 'ugly Burges who designs lovely things'.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 5 parts.

  • Washstand
  • Soap Dish
  • Soap Dish
  • Lid
  • Wash Bowl
Materials and Techniques
Carved, painted and gilded wood; marble top and bowl inset with silver; bronze tap and fittings
Brief Description
Washstand, carved painted and gilt wood, with marble bowl inset with silver fishes and a butterfly. English, 1880. Designed by William Burges.
Physical Description
The marble bowl is inset with silver fishes and a butterfly.
Dimensions
  • Maximum height: 160.5cm
  • Maximum width: 79.5cm
  • Maximum depth: 56.7cm
  • Weight: 116kg
Style
Marks and Inscriptions
Latin inscriptions, reading in translation 'Come and Wash', 'New Life' and 'William Burges had me made'
Gallery Label
  • Designed for the Guest chamber at Tower House along with the bed next to it. The bowl is inset with silver fishes and a butterfly. Inscribed WILLIAM BURGES ME FIERI FECIT MDCCCLXXX (William Burges had me made 1880).(1993)
  • The top, bowl and soap dishes of marble. The bowl inset with silver fishes and a butterfly. The back and water tank set with small mirrors and the taps and fittings of bronze. Inscribed VENEZ LAVER (on cold tap), VITA NOVA (on back), WILLIAM BURGES (left side), and ME FECIT MDCCCLXXX (right side). Designed for the guest chamber, Tower House, Melbury Road, London, W14. Given by Mrs. T.H. Minshall(pre July 2001)
  • British Galleries: This washstand was designed by William Burges for the guest bedroom of his own house, based on the poem 'Vita Nova' (New Life) by the Italian poet, Dante (1265-1321). The motifs suggest a garden full of new life.(27/03/2003)
Credit line
Given by Mrs T.H. Minshall
Object history
The washstand was designed by William Burges (born in London, 1827, died there in 1881) and made in London for the Guest Bedroom at Tower House, Burges's home in Kensington. Burges's Estimate Book (National Art Library 86.SS.52) includes a reference to a washstand for himself, on 2nd October, 1879, made by a carpenter, John Walden, at a cost of £50.
Subjects depicted
Summary
Object Type
William Burges (1827-1881) disliked Georgian furniture of the 18th and early 19th centuries. This washstand, designed by him, epitomises how he thought furniture should look. Brightly painted, using rich materials and with complex fitments and references to literature and myth, the washstand was nonetheless highly functional. It has a water tank in the upper castellated section with a tap. The marble basin, inlaid with silver fish motifs, is fitted with a tap in the form of a bronze animal. The basin swivels so that the dirty water can be tipped into a bucket in the cupboard below.

Places
The Tower House, in Melbury Road, London, was the home of Burges from 1878 until his death in 1881. He designed every aspect of the house himself. The outside of the house was in the Reformed Gothic style, while the inside was decorated in the most elaborate fashion. This washstand was made for the Guest Chamber, of which a visitor wrote, 'The whole chamber is like an ancient shrine or reliquary'.

People
William Burges was an architect as well as a designer of furniture, metalwork and jewellery. His most important projects include Cardiff Castle and Castell Coch, near Cardiff, in Wales. His style was heavily influenced by medieval art. He never married, was a freemason and a collector of armour, and was described by the wife of his patron as 'ugly Burges who designs lovely things'.
Bibliographic References
  • Jonathan Meyer, 'The Nineteenth Century. Empire and Eclecticism', in 'The Intelligent Layman's Book of British Furniture 1600-2000'. London, The Intelligent Layman Publisher Ltd, 2005, pp. 104-185, ill. p. 113, 155 and pp. 164-165
  • Edward Joy, The Country Life Book of English Furniture. London: Country Life Ltd., 1964, illus. fig. 113
Collection
Accession Number
W.4 to D-1953

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record createdJuly 16, 1998
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