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    Sale 7586

    West ~ East - The Niall Hobhouse Collection

    22 May 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 72

    Company School, Benares, 1850-1890

    Designs for Indian furniture including chairs and beds

    Price Realised  


    This lot is offered without a reserve

    Company School, Benares, 1850-1890
    Designs for Indian furniture including chairs and beds
    Two numbered '2' and '3' respectively (upper centre)
    pencil, pen and grey ink and watercolour with gum arabic, heightened with touches of white, two on joined sheets
    12 1/8 x 13 in. (30.8 x 33 cm.), and slightly smaller (8)

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    Indians traditionally sat cross-legged on the floor or on Chowskis (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.

    For a comparable design for an Indo-Victorian chair see S.C. Welch, Room fro Wonder: Indian Painting during the British Period 1760-1880, New York, 1978, p. 150, no. 67, illustrated.

    Special Notice

    This lot is offered without reserve.
    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.


    Anonymous sale, Sotheby's London, 16 July 1992, lot 54.