AN INDIAN IVORY MODEL OF THE HAZARDUARI PALACE
AN INDIAN IVORY MODEL OF THE HAZARDUARI PALACE
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AN INDIAN IVORY MODEL OF THE HAZARDUARI PALACE

MURSHIDABAD, CIRCA 1835

Details
AN INDIAN IVORY MODEL OF THE HAZARDUARI PALACE
MURSHIDABAD, CIRCA 1835
The two gabled porticos carved with the Nawabi coat-of-arms, the removable silk-covered top panel enclosing a hardwood interior, with integral carrying handles, minor losses
7 1/16 in. (18 cm.) high; 38½ in. (96.8 cm.) wide; 18½ in. (47 cm.) deep
Provenance
Almost certainly the missing ivory model recorded as being given by Sayyid Mubarak Ali Khan (Nazim Humayun Jah), Nawab of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa, to
H.M. King William IV in 1836.
R. Andrade, Plymouth, where acquired on 31 July 1949 (£50).
Literature
P.Ch. Majumdar, The Musnud of Murshidabad 1704-1904, Murshidabad, 1905, p. 51.
A.E. Richardson, diary entries, 29 and 31 July 1949.
Special notice

Prospective purchasers are advised that several countries prohibit the importation of property containing materials from endangered species, including but not limited to coral, ivory and tortoiseshell. Accordingly, prospective purchasers should familiarize themselves with relevant customs regulations prior to bidding if they intend to import this lot into another country.

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Lot Essay

THE GIFT OF A PALACE

An ivory model of the Hazarduari Palace, Murshidabad, was 'prepared' by Sagore Mistri, Indian assistant to Colonel Duncan MacLeod of the Bengal Corps of Engineers (who designed and supervised construction of the original Palace between 1829-1837), almost certainly on behalf of the Nawabi Prince Nazim Humayun Jah (d. 1838) (Majumdar, loc. cit., p. 51). By tradition, this ivory model of the Palace, earlier known as the Bara Kothi, was a gift from the Nawab Nazim Humayun Jah, who reigned as Prince of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa from 1824 until 1838, to King William IV of England (d. 1837). On 14 September 1836, the King wrote to the Nawab thanking him for gifts conveyed by 'Mr. Chinnery' (William Chinnery) that comprised portraits of the Nawab and his son. Other 'presents' were obliquely referred to in the letter, and these conceivably included this ivory miniature of the palace (J.H. Tull Walsh, A History of Murshidabad District, London, 1902, 'facsimile of autograph letter of William IV to Nawab Nazim Humayun Jah'). The Nawab's presents evidently created concern among the officials of the East India Company. Their records of 28 September 1836 note:
'We have received a Letter dated the 1st March No. 2 of 1836, from the Governor of Bengal informing us of the transmission to this Country of Presents and a letter from His Highness the Nawab Nazim to His Majesty, in charge of Mr. Chinnery. His Majesty has thought fit to give a most gracious reception to Mr. Chinnery and to accept the Presents. But this Mission following so closely upon that which was recently sent from the King of Oude, and which had occasioned so much embarrassment to the Home Authorities has naturally directed our attention to the inexpediency of encouraging communications between the Native Princes of India and this Country except through the ordinary Channels' (India Office Records, E/4/748, pp. 1013-14).
Reciprocally, William IV sent a full-length portrait of himself, by way of the ship George the Fourth, possibly the large canvas painting that now hangs in Gallery no. 13 (Western Drawing Room) of the Palace, and conferred upon the Nawab the Grand Cross of the Royal Hanoverian Guelphic order with insignia, which is also preserved in the Palace (IOR, E/4/758, p. 698; E/4/749, pp. 656-658; Majumdar, op. cit., p. 51).

Ivory carving was at its zenith when the Nawabs of Bengal had their court at Murshidabad. In 1811, a traveller noted that the district, a centre of cultural and commercial activity, was renowned for its 'inimitable ivory work', and the Nawab and other princes of Bengal had ivory workers in their pay (L.S.S. O'Malley, Bengal District Gazetteers: Murshidabad, Calcutta, 1914, p. 186). Mistri, almost certainly representing the Nawab, would have ordered the highly finished model from skilled Bhaskar or 'image-maker' (ivory carver), a branch of the carpenter caste who jealously guarded the secret of their craft from other castes (S. Nandi, 'Art of Ivory in Murshidabad', Indian Museum Bulletin, Calcutta, January 1969, p. 95). Their ivory work was renowned for the precision of the carving, which utilised up to 70-80 different tools and an absence or sparing use of joins (O'Malley, op. cit., p. 142). G.C. Dutt notes in his Monograph on ivory-carving in Bengal that 'The best ivory-carvers of Berhampur [Murshidabad] can turn out any practicable model from a pattern, and they are frequently employed by the European residents of the station to make... imitations of western things' (Bengal, 1901, p. 7). Therefore it is probable that Sagore Mistri provided the design and supervised the ivory carvers in the execution of the ivory miniature of the Hazarduri Palace. This model is particularly rare for its scale and also its architectural subject matter. Customarily there was a demand for mythological subjects, indigenous conveyances such as palanquins, howdahs, bullock carts and peacock state barges and 'knick-knacks' aimed at the European market, initially those associated with the cotton and silk factories of the East India Company who frequently employed the ivory carvers of Murshidabad to make models of Western objects (Nandi, op. cit., p. 96). The western enthusiasm for ivory carving culminated in specimens of ivory work, admired for their scale, elaborateness of detail and 'truth of representation', being sent to the Great Exhibition of 1851 (O'Malley, op. cit., p. 140). The British government initially ordered large consignments of ivory work for inclusion in exhibitions in England, other European countries and India but later were lent ivory carvings from the remarkable collections of the Nawabs of Murshidabad for exhibition (ibid., p. 141). An ivory carving of his Highness of Bengal seated in a howdah on an elephant was sold at Christie's, New York, 18 October 2005, lot 1559. Interestingly, this model had an engraved plaque which read 'The gift of Queen Adelaide/to Louisa Wheatley/August 30, 1836'; Queen Adelaide was the wife of William IV, and Louisa Wheatley, a Lady-in-Waiting which was almost certainly another gift to William IV from the Nawab and reinforcing the possibility that this is model is a lost royal gift.

HAZARDUARI PALACE
The impressive Italianate three-storied Hazarduari Palace consisting of eight galleries and 114 rooms is located on the banks of the Bhagirathi River. Hazarduari means 'the one with a thousand doors', although 900 of the 1000 doors of the palace are false. Intended as a palace for the Nawab, the final building, an amalgamation of primarily western design with some Indian concessions, a Medina and three mosques, was finally considered unsuitable for the women of the Nawab's court due to the lack of private areas. It was used to hold the Durbar and other official meetings between the British and the Nawabs, and as a residence for high-ranking British officials. The main gates leading to the Palace have musicians' galleries over them, and the entrances are large and high enough for an elephant to pass through with a howdah on its back. A grand flight of thirty-seven steps flanked by two stone seated lions leads up to the Palace's upper portico with its pediment carved with the Nawabi coat-of-arms supported by seven immense pillars. The Durbar hall, banqueting hall and ballroom were particularly impressive, the former crowned by a glass paned dome, sixty-three feet high, from which hung a magnificent candelabrum of one hundred and one branches, purportedly the second largest in the world after one at Buckingham Palace. The palace is now a museum housing the Nawab collections and is under the control of the Archeological Survey of India.
The Nawabs of Murshidabad were renowned for their collection of ivory carvings and the presentation of an ivory model that combined western architectural design with Indian craftsmanship in the form of 'the most conspicuous building in Murshidabad' would undoubtedly have been an appropriate gift for King William IV.

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