• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7586

    West ~ East - The Niall Hobhouse Collection

    22 May 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 71

    Company School, Benares, circa 1850-1890

    Designs for Indian palanquins and howdahs

    Price Realised  


    Company School, Benares, circa 1850-1890
    Designs for Indian palanquins and howdahs
    two numbered '2' and '3' respectively (upper centre)
    pencil, pen and grey ink and watercolour with gum arabic, heightened with touches of white
    12 1/8 x 13 in. (30.8 x 33 cm.); and slightly smaller (14)

    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    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.

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

    Special Notice

    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.

    Saleroom Notice

    Please note that there are thirteen designs in this lot and not fourteen as indicated in the catalogue.