List Price £85,000
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By Oomersi Mawji & Sons (Indian, c. 1860 - c. 1930)
This exceptional rosewater table fountain is by Oomersi Mawji & Sons, an Indian silversmithing firm widely regarded today as one of the finest in the country’s history.
This superb table fountain is by the Indian silversmiths Oomersi Mawji & Sons, a firm regarded today as one of the greatest in Indian history. Oomersi Mawji, who was born in Gujarat, began his career as a leather engraver—a skill in many ways transferrable to silver engraving. Oomersi soon transitioned into silversmithing, where he became renowned for his skill remarkably quickly: by the 1860s, he was court silversmith to both the Maharaos of Kutch and the Maharajas of Baroda, the latter being where the present piece was produced. Oomersi’s firm not only received widespread recognition in India, but also did so worldwide, and in 1878 he and his sons participated in the Exposition Universelle in Paris, while soon after his products were retailed in London at Liberty & Co. Pieces by Oomersi Mawji & Sons are held in many important collections, such as the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
The fountain features a circular foot below a waisted socle, which in turn supports the main body of the fountain. The body supports a long stem, which culminates above in the fountain bowl. Most remarkably, the stem is wrought in the form of an exotic pheasant-like bird, the head of which is tilted back, and whose open mouth issues a stream of water.
The silver throughout the piece is decorated with a variety of silver working techniques, including repoussé (where the silver is hammered from the reverse side to create a design in low relief), chasing (where the silver is hammered on the front side, sinking the metal), and engraving (creating fine surface detail). These three techniques are used in combination to create a rich, detailed series of pictorial scenes. Motifs of scrolling foliage, flowers, and idyllic wetland scenes of waterfowl and elephants abound, all executed with exceptional skill.
The fountain is stamped ‘O.M’ for Oomersi Mawji & Sons, and impressed ‘Baroda’, indicating the city of production.
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