20/05/2021 News Stories & Press Release, Islamic & Indian Art
Roseberys are pleased to present the first Arts of India auction of the year on Tuesday 15 June, starting at 1pm. The sale includes a wide array of classical Indian art, including sculpture and paintings, featuring alongside fine textiles, gold and silver works of art, jewellery, Indian miniatures and modern and contemporary Indian Art. The department was recently honoured with the 2020 Asian Art in London Award for an Outstanding Indian and Islamic Work of Art from an Auction House.
Alice Bailey, Head of the department comments ‘The upcoming June 15th Arts of India sale offers an impressive collection of jewellery with notable provenance. A magnificent sarpech, once in the collection of Maharaja Bhupinder Singh, renown for the Cartier Patiala necklace, is on offer for the first time at auction. In addition, we are delighted to have a wonderful emerald-set gold chand-tikka or forehead ornament which belonged by repute to the wife of Duleep Singh, Maharani Jindan Kaur, one of a group of jewels with this provenance. A magnificent string of polished spinels of over 450 carats is also of note. There is also a strong contemporary Indian section with a wonderful head in pastel by M.F. Husain executed in 1954. Sculpture by Indian artist Premalya Singh and an oil by Jamini Roy are also of note. Paintings and works on paper from the Mughal, Pahari and Company schools as well as sculpture, metalwork and decorative items complete an exciting and varied sale.’
Leading the highlights within the sale, is lot 212, a diamond- and ruby-set gold sarpech, formerly the property of the Maharaja of Patiala, Bhupinder Singh, Punjab, circa 1910. Set with 133 diamonds, 15 Burmese rubies and a large natural pearl, the sarpech has been entered onto the market with an estimate of £60,000- £80,000.
The sarpech was commissioned by Maharaja Bhupinder Singh (1891-1938) and inherited by his son Maharaja Yadavindra Singh (1913-1974), the last Maharaja of Patiala. During a stay at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Bombay in the 1940s, Maharaja Yadavindra Singh sold the sarpech to the Gazdar's Jewellers, the luxury jewellery firm in the arcade of the hotel from whom the current vendor purchased it. Well known for his love of luxury and extravagant lifestyle, he inherited from his father some of the most fabulous jewels of the time including the De Beers yellow diamond of over 234 carats, later mounted by Cartier in the famous Patiala Necklace which cost $25 million in 1926. The Christie's New York sale of Sheikh Al-Thani's collection of jewellery and jewelled objects from India, Maharajas and Mughal Magnificence, included part of another famous ruby, diamond and pearl necklace that Cartier produced for the Maharaja and considered by the firm to be one of the most important necklaces ever made (Christie's New York, June 19th, 2019, Lot 272).
Another impressive item of jewellery on offer is lot 118, a gem-set gold forehead pendant (chand-tikka), that comes with an estimate of £30,000- £50,000. The pendant hails from Punjab, Lahore, first half 19th century, by repute from the collection of Maharani Jindan Kaur (1817-63), wife of Maharajah Ranjit Singh (1780-1839), Punjab, circa 1820. The upper element of the pendant is in the form of a crescent set with rock crystal surmounted by a three petaled flower motif set with rubies and a diamond. The lower element is in the form of a crescent set with rock crystal, surmounted by a single spinel, and a fringe of natural pearls and gold foliate motifs. It comes with a provenance from a Private collection, acquired by the vendor from the family of renowned London jeweller John Brogden (1820-1884) and formerly in the collection of Maharani Jindan Kaur (1817-63). John Brogden was one of the best known and most prolific of Victorian manufacturing jewellers during the second half of the 19th Century although his family had been in the trade since the early 18th century. He exhibited successfully at the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London’s Crystal Palace showcasing a range of jewellery designs including archaeological revival style pieces inspired by the recently discovered ruins of the ancient city of Nineveh. Further acclaim was granted them at the 1855 Exhibition Universelle in Paris where the company won a gold medal, details of which were duly added to the silk linings of their jewellery cases. Brogden was awarded the Légion d’Honneur for “Goldsmiths’ work and jewellery in exquisite taste” as well as the gold medal of L’Academie Nationale, Paris. Examples of his Assyrian, Egyptian and Renaissance revival jewellery can be seen in both the Victoria and Albert Museum and The British Museum amongst others. During 1880 Brogden moved the firm and manufacturing capability to new premises at 6, Grand Hotel Buildings in Charing-Cross and he was granted a Royal Warrant from H.R.H. Prince Leopold, son of Queen Victoria, which he proudly added to the company information stamped on the silk linings of his jewellery boxes.
Lot 76 on offer is a Kutch finely chased gold sword hilt in the form of an elephant (talwar), India, late 18th-early 19th century, coming with an estimate of £3,000- £5,000. This beautifully decorated hilt is both whimsical in the detail and form. The sword has a delicate and dense design of stylised flowers and geometric borders below an elephant’s head, which acts as both the pommel and guard to the hilt, mounted. The elephant’s expression appears quite jovial rather than powerful or intimidating. His head is decorated with chased patterns in the style of jewelled trappings, suggesting that the elephant was dressed for ceremonial occasions rather than for war.
On offer to the market with an estimate of £400- £600 is lot 13, a polished stone fragment of a female courtesan, South India, 14th/15th century. Her right arm is extended and holding possibly a flaming torch, her finely detailed necklace formed of rectangular and circular plaques, remains of red pigment. The stone fragment which measures, max. 26cm. diam. x 13cm. high, was formally in the Private Collection of Werner Forman (1921-2010). Czech photographer, Werner Forman's life work was devoted to documenting in photographs the history, art, religion and customs of the great civilizations and societies of the past. His archive has extensive collections of photographs from his global travels, as well as an impressive collection of art and antiques he amassed along the way.
Lot 38 is an Indo-Portuguese Colcha (coverlet or quilt), Goa, India, first half 17th century, in two sections, cotton and Tussar silk. One measuring 94cm wide x 316cm and the other section 93.5 wide x 316cm, this lot comes with an estimate of £3,000 - £5,000. The Portuguese were the first to arrive in South Asia by sailing around Africa, capturing Goa in 1510. During the sixteen century, they were the leading European players in India and China. Spices and textiles were the most traded commodities at that time. During the peak times, about eight hundred thousand pieces of cloth were annually imported to Lisbon. In this context, the magnificently embroidered colchas changed from being exclusive diplomatic gifts or exotic souvenirs into marketable trade products that were meant to be sold to wealthy households. Using Chinese silk and local stitchwork, the colchas used Portuguese design elements. Colchas were made either in Goa or on the east coast in Bengal, and they are some of the earliest cross-cultural textiles known.
Lot 116 on offer is a finely carved ebony four-fold screen and occasional table, from North India, made in the second half 19th century. In the second half of the nineteenth century, it was fashionable in India to decorate wood and furniture with miniatures on ivory. Produced in the workshops of North India, they were much admired by European visitors and residents who would either purchase them loose or mounted into items such as this screen and table. This table and screen jointly come with a pre-sale estimate of £8,000- £12,000.
Lot 168, is a half-length portrait, measuring 9cm. x 6cm of Tipu Sultan (r.1782-1799), Sultan of Mysore. The gouache on ivory comes with an estimate of £1,000- £1,500. Tipu Sultan is depicted wearing a turban set with a jewelled aigrette and wearing a striped jama, within a gilt frame. Tipu Sultan or Tipu Sahib was born in Devanhalli on 20th November 1750 to Haider 'Ali (1721-82) and his second wife Fatima, or Fakr-un-Nissa. Haider 'Ali was a soldier, who had risen through the ranks of the Mysore army to the point where he was able to establish himself as de facto ruler, usurping the brothers Nanjaraj and Devraj in 1752. In 1782 Tipu succeeded his father as Sultan of Mysore, which was the strongest, the best governed and the most prosperous state in India. Tipu, who famously uttered: "I would rather live a day as a tiger than a lifetime as a sheep" adopted the royal tiger as his personal emblem. He was a fierce and innovative leader. He tried to import European industrial technology through French engineers and experimented with harnessing water-power to drive his industrial machinery. French artisans were welcomed to Seringapatam, where they taught the craftsmen of Mysore the secrets of printing and of manufacturing porcelain, glass and watches, as well as the art of tapestry weaving. Tipu sent envoys to southern China to bring back silkworm eggs and established sericulture in Mysore, an innovation of his that still enriches the region today. Tipu Sultan was also the East India Company's most tenacious enemy. The Company badly wanted to take over Mysore and to seize its considerable mineral riches. Following numerous battles, the famous siege of Serigapatam took place in February 1799 and Tipu Sultan was killed on the battlefield by British troupes. The Prize Agents were staggered by what they found in Tipu's treasury: gold, jewellery, arms and armour, palanquins, furniture and the finest cloths.
Within the highlights of modern and contemporary works of art on offer within the auction is lot 232, an artwork measuring 41.3 x 32cm, by the master of modern Indian painting M.F. Husain (1915-2011). Untitled, the framed pastel on paper depicting a face in red and black, executed in 1954, is signed and dated '54 lower right in pencil, with a Chemould Gallery label to reverse. The work was purchased from Kunika-Chemould Art Centre, Delhi by Douglas and Valerie Coombs, thence by descent. The Coombs lived in Mumbai (Bombay) from 1967 to 1973 where Douglas was a British Council representative. This work comes with an estimate of £1,000- £1,500.
Lot 237 on offer is by the influential Indian artist Balraj Khanna, b. 1940. Untitled, the oil on canvas, signed 'Balraj' and dated '72 lower right, measures 60 x 60cm. Movement, feeling and atmosphere are very important to Balraj Khanna’s artwork, with the hope that his paintings can lift or even liberate the viewers mood. Balraj Khanna’s work has been shown in solo retrospectives and group exhibitions around the world. The work on offer at Roseberys was originally purchased in 1973 by the vendor's husband from Nicholas Treadwell Gallery, London and now comes with an estimated price of £600- £800.
Elsewhere in the sale, lot 242 by Indian painter Jamini Roy, (1887-1972), comes with an estimate of £3,000- £5,000. Untitled, depicting a woman in grey, the tempera on paper laid on board is signed in Bengali lower right. Glazed and framed, the work on offer measures 45cm x 35cm. Jamini Roy was honoured with the State award of Padma Bhushan in 1955. He was one of the most famous pupils of Abanindranath Tagore, whose artistic originality and contribution to the emergence of art in India remains unquestionable. The artwork was gifted to the current owner by his late great uncle who worked as defence attaché in Burma in the late 1940s for Lord Mountbatten (1900-1979).
Lot 132, A Lady in a Howdah, North India, possibly Benares, circa 1880 is an earlier highlight work of art on offer within the auction, which comes with an estimate of £800- £1,200. The brush drawing and gouache in brown and black on paper measures 20.8 x 16.9cm. It comes with a provenance from Stuart Carey Welch (1928-2008), Curator of Islamic Art at the Fogg Museum, curator of Islamic and Indian Art at Harvard Art Museum and consultant to the Department of Islamic Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The woman's appearance within the artwork would suggest that she is a courtesan, though as she also seems to be made of the same material as the howdah, it is possible that the drawing is a design for a silver table ornament. Indians traditionally sat cross-legged on the floor or on Chowkis (platforms), however with the increasing arrival of Europeans, western furniture became a common feature in many Indian households. Objects such as chairs and sofas were regarded as uncomfortable, however they became necessary to receive European guests. Such furniture was usually confined to rooms only used by foreign visitors Initially, Calcutta and Bombay merchants thrived by importing these luxuries. However, soon Indian craftsmen began to duplicate them and even impose their own designs. Native designers and craftsmen learned to develop the Victorian aesthetics further, into outrageous complex shapes, ideal for the drawing rooms of Maharajas, Nawabs, and rich merchants. These drawings show the great imagination and inventiveness, which effectively enticed prospective buyers. The design of the howdah incorporates some obvious English influence such as the Tudor rose on the body and the High Victorian elaboration of the twisted flower stem. For a whole group of similarly elaborate howdah and other furniture designs formerly in the Stuart Cary Welch Collection, see Sotheby’s 31 May 2011, no. 134. These drawings are from Benares circa 1880, where a firm specialized in making such elaborate furniture for the princely market.
Tuesday 15 June, 1pm
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