1900 - 1989
Designed and executed for the Manik Bagh Palace of the Maharaja of Indore
Partially-lacquered Alpaca silver
Height: 72⅜ in.; 184.5 cm
Diameter of shade: 24⅞ in.; 63.2 cm
Overall in very good condition. Commissioned for the Maharaja of Indore’s Manik Bagh Palace, this floor lamp displays truly innovative and avant-garde forms for the era. The Alpaca silver presents with expected signs of age in the form of surface scratches concentrated to the base and shade, as well as light oxidation throughout consistent with age and gentle use. The shade presents with occasional and scattered variations in color which are not visually distracting and one side with light surface soiling, covering an area measuring approximately 5 inches wide. The opposite side of the shade with a paint mark near the lower rim measuring approximately 1 1/8 inch wide. The inside of the shade appears to retain its original white painted surface which presents with occasional losses to the paint consistent with age. The red lacquered surface appears to have some isolated areas that have been repainted at some point in the piece’s history and consequently presents with slight variations in color when inspected in person. The lacquer also presents with light surface scratches, occasional and scattered soiling and very minor areas of superficial loss, all consistent with age and use. The column with a very minor area of superficial residue covering an area measuring approximately 1 x 3/4 inch and not visually distracting. The original electric switch is located on the base. This highly sophisticated and modernist lamp is enriched by its historic provenance and provides collectors with a rare opportunity to acquire an important piece from one of the most iconic commissions of the interwar era. Sotheby's does not guarantee electrical components and suggests having all wiring inspected by a licensed electrician.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE PRINTED IN THE CATALOGUE.
Commissioned directly from the artist by the Maharaja of Indore for the Manik Bagh Palace, India
Sotheby's Monaco, May 25, 1980, lot 208
Private Collection, Europe
Sotheby's Paris, May 3, 2018, lot 5
Robert Descharmes, "En Inde, Un Palais 1930," Connaissance des Arts, September 1970, p. 52 (for a period photograph of the model in the Maharaja's bedroom)
Anne Bony, Les Années 30, Paris, p. 959
Reto Niggl and Eckart Muthesius, The Maharaja's Palace in Indore: Architecture and Interior, Stuttgart, 1996, pp. 54, 73, 114 (for the original design drawing)
Elio Schenini, On the Paths of Enlightenment: The Myth of India in Western Culture, 1808-2017, Milan, 2017, p. 280 (for period photographs of related models in the Maharaja's palace)
Moderne Maharajah: Un Mécène des Années 1930, exh. cat., Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, 2019, pp. 114 (for a period photograph of the model in the Maharani’s boudoir), 135 (for a drawing of the model in the Maharani’s boudoir), 146 (for the production sketch of the model)
It was in 1928 that Yashwant Rao Holkar II met Eckart Muthesius, a young German architect and designer. The prince, having studied in Great Britain and traveled to France and Germany, was fascinated by the Western avant-garde culture and the fresh breath of modernity that swept through Europe. Within this context, the young prince commissioned Muthesius to design his palace, Manik Bagh in Indore. From 1929 to 1932, Muthesius dedicated his energy to the creation of this modernist mansion. The architecture of the palace was finalized in 1931. While incredibly spare on the exterior, the palace was filled with European avant-garde masterpieces. The Maharaja, who was coronated in 1930, acquired works by Eileen Gray, René Herbst, Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann, Louis Sognot and Ivan Da Silva Bruhns. He also took an interest in the early beginnings of industrially manufactured furniture, as seen in the lounge chair by Charlotte Perriand, Pierre Jeanneret and Le Corbusier the Maharaja placed in his private bedroom and pieces by the British manufacturer PEL used in the guestrooms.
The core furniture, lighting and interior was designed by Muthesius himself in accordance with his modernist architectural vision with the intent to create a complete work of art. The present example is one of six different floor lamp designs created specifically for the palace. In 1980, Sotheby’s Monaco organized a landmark auction of furniture from Manik Bagh Palace, in which the present lamp was previously offered. The present floor lamp design was displayed in the bedrooms of the Maharaja and Maharani. Based on Muthesius’ notes on the original production sketch, two examples of this model appear to have been produced—one originally intended for the Maharaja’s dressing room, the other for the Maharani’s. Recently, the floor lamp was requested by the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris for their ongoing exhibition focusing on the Maharaja Indore, Moderne Maharajah, Un Mécène des Années 30.