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National Museums Scotland acquires rare Charles Rennie Mackintosh wash stand for 150th anniversary

Thursday 7 June, 2018

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

National Museums Scotland has acquired a rare and important wash stand by Charles Rennie Mackintosh. A highly significant example of Scottish 20th century design, the piece with go on permanent display from today 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 there 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.

Dr Sally-Anne Huxtable, Principal Curator of Modern and Contemporary Design at National Museums Scotland said:

“This exceptional piece of furniture is a major work by, arguably, the most significant Scottish designer of the Modern period. 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.”

Stephen Deuchar, Director of Art Fund, said:

‘Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s fine and important washstand intriguingly brings together the world of British design with the overlooked history of the internment camps of World War I. Art Fund is proud to support National Museums Scotland in making this imaginative acquisition.’

Further information and images from: Susan Gray or Bruce Blacklaw, National Museums Scotland Press Office, on 0131 247 4088 or s.gray@nms.ac.uk

Notes to editors

  1. National Museums Scotland is one of the leading museum groups in the UK and Europe and it looks after collections of national and international importance. The organisation provides loans, partnerships, research and training in Scotland and internationally. Our individual museums are the National Museum of Scotland, the National Museum of Flight, the National Museum of Rural Life and the National War Museum. The National Museums Collection Centre in Edinburgh houses conservation and research facilities as well as collections not currently on display.
  2. Art Fund
    Art Fund is the national fundraising charity for art. In the past five years alone Art Fund has given £34 million to help museums and galleries acquire works of art for their collections. It also helps museums share their collections with wider audiences by supporting a range of tours and exhibitions, and makes additional grants to support the training and professional development of curators. Art Fund is independently funded, with the core of its income provided by 139,000 members who receive the National Art Pass and enjoy free entry to over 320 museums, galleries and historic places across the UK, as well as 50% off entry to major exhibitions and subscription to Art Quarterly magazine. In addition to grant-giving, Art Fund’s support for museums includes Art Fund Museum of the Year (won by The Hepworth Wakefield in 2017) and a range of digital platforms.
    Find out more about Art Fund and the National Art Pass at www.artfund.org
  3. Bheireadh Oifis nam Meadhanan eadar-theangachadh Gàidhlig den bhrath-naidheachd seachad do bhuidhinn mheadhanan bharantaichte. Cuiribh fios do dh'Oifis nam Meadhanan airson bruidhinn air cinn-latha freagarrach.
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