Rare Charles Rennie Mackintosh wash stand to go on display

National Museums Scotland has acquired a rare and important wash stand by Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

Dr Sally-Anne Huxtable, Principal Curator of Modern and Contemporary Design at National Museums Scotland putting the finishing touches to the Charles Rennie Mackintosh display.

Rare Mackintosh wash stand with Dr Sally-Anne Huxtable

The highly significant example of Scottish 20th century design will go on permanent display to coincide with the 150th anniversary of Mackintosh’s birth, on 7 June 1868.

Dating from 1917, the wash stand is a rare example of Mackintosh’s later work and was made by skilled ‘enemy intern’ cabinet makers at the Knockaloe Internment Camp on the Isle of Man.

The acquisition has been made possible with generous support from Art Fund and the NMS Charitable Trust. The wash stand is now on display in the Design for Living gallery at the National Museum of Scotland.

Forming part of a bedroom set, the piece is made from mahogany and inlaid with mother of pearl. It is based on a similar wash stand designed in 1917 for the guest bedroom of the Northampton home of Mackintosh’s patron WJ Bassett-Lowke.

The Knockaloe camp into which ‘enemy aliens’ were interned during the First World War was set up in November 1917. Many of those interned were craftspeople who had worked as designers and makers in Britain before the outbreak of war. Due to the skilled work of the interned artisans who made them, the objects which make up these late bedroom sets are of superb quality.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh

Charles Rennie Mackintosh

“This exceptional piece of furniture is a major work by, arguably, the most significant Scottish designer of the Modern period,” said Dr Sally-Anne Huxtable, Principal Curator of Modern and Contemporary Design at National Museums Scotland.

“Mackintosh’s designs from 1916-17 are markedly different from his earlier work in that they are beautifully made and celebrate the qualities of the materials used, rather than just focusing on form and colour. This is an important addition to our internationally significant collections of European art and design, and we are grateful to Art Fund and the Lindsay Endowment Fund for their support.”

More on Mackintosh and his enduring legacy can be found in issue 1 of Scotland Correspondent magazine.