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    Sale 7540

    A House on the Wiltshire Downs

    6 March 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 182

    AN ANGLO-INDIAN CARVED HARDWOOD, POLYCHROME-PAINTED AND GILT-GESSO REVERSIBLE 'DAY' AND 'NIGHT' THREE-FOLD SCREEN

    LATE 19TH CENTURY, PROBABLY KURNUL DISTRICT OR HYDERABAD

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    AN ANGLO-INDIAN CARVED HARDWOOD, POLYCHROME-PAINTED AND GILT-GESSO REVERSIBLE 'DAY' AND 'NIGHT' THREE-FOLD SCREEN
    LATE 19TH CENTURY, PROBABLY KURNUL DISTRICT OR HYDERABAD
    Each foliate-carved arched frame inset with three foliate-decorated polychrome 'lacquer' panels, decorated to one side for 'day' and the reverse for 'night'
    76½ in. (194.5 cm.) high; each panel 20½ in. (52 cm.) wide


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    The technique of 'lacquer' used in this reversible screen is known as Kurnul lacquer, after the area in the Madras Presidency where it was most prolifically produced, though the technique itself was also practised in Hyderabad, Bikanir and Shahpura (A. Jaffer, Furniture in British India and Ceylon, 2001, p. 143). The raised surface, often painted with intricate floral designs, was achieved by building up layers of gesso on wood, polychrome paint and highlighted with gold or silver paint, mimicing enamel.

    The production of Kurnul lacquer was documented by E.B. Havell in 1886, who believed that panels such as these could be successfully 'adapted to furniture and interior decoration', as at Lady Curzon's boudoir at the Circuit House in Delhi. However, besides Lady Curzon's enthusiasm, demand for Kurnul lacquer appears to have been extremely limited, and the practise may have died out altogether since the late 19th Century (A. Jaffer, ibid, pp. 143-144).

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