Washstand (athénienne or lavabo)

Designer: Design attributed to Charles Percier (French, Paris 1764–1838 Paris)

Maker: Gilt bronze mounts by Martin-Guillaume Biennais (French, 1764–1843, active ca. 1796–1819)

Date: 1800–14

Culture: French, Paris

Medium: Legs, base and shelf of yew wood; gilt-bronze mounts; iron plate beneath shelf

Dimensions: Height: 36 3/8 in. (92.4 cm); Diameter: 19 1/2 in. (49.5 cm)

Classification: Woodwork-Furniture

Credit Line: Bequest of James Alexander Scrymser, 1918

Accession Number: 26.256.1


This is one of two replicas made by Martin-Guillaume Biennais (the other is at Fontainebleau) of the washstand now in the Louvre, which was made for Napoleon between 1800 and 1804. This version is unfortunately missing its silver-gilt ewer on the middle shelf and a basin at the top. Charles Percier's drawing for the model is in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris. The term athénienne originated in 1774 to describe a Neoclassical piece of furniture and continued in use into the Empire period.