List Price £35,000
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This exceptional pair of chairs was crafted from silver in 19th century India and is a representation of the superb skill of its makers.
Each chair has a repoussé silver frame adorned with rich foliate motifs. In the centre of the backrest, the makers depicted an elegant flower vase filled with a bouquet of flowers. Flanking it are further flowers and leaves, including grape vines. The back is topped with a bird-like creature standing with its wings spread.
The back of the chair reveals a host of further repoussé ornamentation. Repoussé is a method of embossing silver by hammering into a mould from the reverse side, allowing craftsmen to create extraordinary patterns. A crown-shaped panel is filled with a shield flanked by two upright lions. This imagery is reminiscent of the coat of arms of various European countries such as the United Kingdom and Belgium where lions are represented surrounding the central shield. Around the animals are depictions of flowers and foliage composed similarly as in the front of the chairs.
Adding to the visually rich and interesting design of the furniture pieces are the armrests. Formed in the shape of a lion, each one is depicted in a lying down position, their body posture suggesting they are guarding the seater. The details on the lions’ bodies are beautifully executed, in particular on the mane. Their tails extend toward the lions’ heads and are raised from their bodies, providing the seater with a higher armrest. Each lion has realistic-looking glass eyes, adding another magnificent feature to these Indian chairs.
The seat, parts of the backrest as well as inside of the armrests are upholstered in a vivid red textile. Delicate, geometrical patterns adorn the red textile which is edged by a gold trim.
The chairs stand on four legs, all with repoussé foliate motifs. The back two legs are of a tapering shaylantae form while the front two are of a cabriole shape and terminate in lion paw feet.
In the late 16th century, with the founding of the East India Companies, the Indian furniture industry grew larger. Workers of the East Indian Companies from countries such as Portugal, England, and the Netherlands, often unable to bring their furniture with them were searching for pieces for their new homes in India. The demand resulted in several schools of furniture makers being opened in India. By the 19th century, Indian makers were producing beautiful and skilfully made pieces. Some of their works were exhibited at the famous 1851 Great Exhibition in London.
Wonderfully decorated all around, this pair of extraordinary chairs would make stunning statement pieces in the appropriate interior.
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