This form of athenienne is derived from the tripod stand discovered in the Temple of Isis at Pompeii and now at the Museo Archeologico, Naples. This celebrated stand served as the model for the baptismal fonts by Luigi and Francesco Monfradini, one a present to the Empress Marie-Louise by the city of Milan in 1811, the other for the King of Rome in 1813 ('The Age of Neo Classicism', Exhibition Catalogue, London, 1972, pl. XII, no. 1828.).
Widely copied in the 19th century, the design was popularised in C. Percier and P. Fontaine's Recueil de Décorations Intérieures of 1801, pl. 23 and 33). They were almost certainly the designers of a pair of tripod basin stands of similar form supplied around 1802/3 for the bedroom of the Emperor Napoleon and Empress Josephine at the Ch'cateau de Saint-Cloud.