The palette and subject matter of The Washstand reveal another shift in Braque’s oeuvre. Unlike Braque’s bright, ornamental oils from the 1930s, his canvases from the early 1940s expressed daily life and domestic routine in darker, more somber, and restrained spaces. His still-life arrangements were mostly situated on kitchen tables or washstands in unadorned interiors, with some incorporating views to the outdoors.
In July 1948, Phillips purchased from Braque’s dealer Paul Rosenberg The Washstand. Thrilled with this acquisition, Phillips exhibited it almost immediately after it arrived, from August to November of 1948, together with Lemons and Napkin Ring (1928) on the second floor of the museum.