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.
WORKS OF ART FROM VIZAGAPATAM
A PRIVATE EUROPEAN COLLECTION
This impresive group includes works originating from Vizagapatam, a port on India's Coromandel coast. From the late seventeenth century Vizagapatam was renowned for its craftsmens' skill in veneering, inlaying and engraving ivory over wooden carcasses. The intricate designs produced there were aligned to Western forms and often engraved with Western scenes. Furniture and objects manufactured in Vizagapatam were considered luxury goods and retailed in Madras and Calcutta. They weree popularised by examples brought back to the West by dignitaries and officials of the East India Company such as Edward Harrison, Governor of Fort St.George (Madras) (1711-17), Clive of India and Warren Hastings.
Throughout the eighteenth and early nineteenth century, workshops in Vizagapatam manufactured smaller objects such as miniature cabinets, caskets and boxes in large quantities. Easily portable, they attracted more business from passing trade than large pieces of furniture. One such example featured in this collection is a beautifully engraved miniature bureau-cabinet (lot 151) that serves as a portable desk, jewel-case and dressing-box. An intricately-engraved sewing-box modelled as a Western-style house (lot 152), and multifunctional work-boxes (lots 153 and 157), are typical of the souvenirs acquired by English expatriates and travellers in India.
Another example of the refined wares produced in Vizagapatam is a tea caddy of ivory panels engraved with black lac dating from 1790-1800 (lot 154). It was made for the European market to address a growing fashion for tea, considered a precious commodity from the late 17th century, was fitted with canisters and could be locked to keep the tea safe from servants' inquisitive hands.
The collection also includes two superb boxes decorated using exotic woods native to India (lots 155 and 156). Amin Jaffer notes that 'Vizagapatam possessed the ingredients necessary for the success of a centre of furniture-making'. Located in the Northern Circars, local craftsmen had access to many fine indigenous timbers such as teak, ebony and rosewood and as a major port on historic trading routes between Europe and the Far East, other materials, such as ivory, padouk and sandalwood were also readily available (A. Jaffer, Furniture from British India and Ceylon, London, 2001, p.172).