Thursday, May 28, 2015

Photo Friday: The Washstand

By Gretchen Sawatzki


Walnut Victorian Era washstand in the Rococo Revival Style circa 1870. 
Image by Hannah Manning via Materials Unlimited

The washstand was born out of necessity. In a time when indoor plumbing was a pipe dream, washstands would be utilized for daily washing rituals. Before bathrooms, washstands were placed in the bedroom and would house a pitcher, basin, towels, and soaps for daily washing. Water would be retrieved from an outside source and contained within the pitcher.

Washing Pitcher and Basin circa 1850

When it was time to wash, water would be poured into the basin for scrubbing. When washing was complete, the dirty water would be placed inside another basin and stored on a shelf or inside a cabinet below. Used chamber pots were also stored in the cabinet. In a time was cleanliness was close to godliness, washing was a vital function of high society, a practice that most take for granted today.

Early washstand circa 1670-1700, photo
courtesy of metmuseum.org

Some washstands are outfitted with backsplashes and towel bars, sunken basin and marble surfaces, but early washstands were simple stands with shelves and as time went on evolved into stand alone furnishings.

Sources:
 exhibits.hsl.virginia.edu
 metmuseum.org
 pbs.org

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