Thursday, January 27, 2011

Modernist Maharajas

This book is definitely on my recommended reading list. 
It was a fun read and an excellent resource for images and information for my presentation on 'Jewels of the Maharajas: The Splendor of the Indian Royal Courts'. My talk focused on how Moghul jewelry styles influenced European jewelry design, specifically that of the Art Deco Period.

But what was particularly interesting in the book was the cross cultural exchange that occured between the wealthy Maharajas and the Europeans in terms of design. A select group of  sophisticated Maharajas came to appreciate the Art Deco aesthetic and used it in their custom made clothes, yachts, cars, and palaces.

The Umaid Bhawan Palace, built in 1929 for the Maharaja  Umaid Singh of Jodhpur and the Manik Bagh Palace, built in 1932 for the Maharaja Yeshwant Rao Holkar, are two superlative examples of Art Deco architecture and interior design in India. 
Art Deco Pool at the Umaid Bhawan Palace

Art Deco Streamline Modern Bath at the Umaid Bhawan Palace

The First Modernist Maharaja
Maharaja Yeshwant Rao Holkar II by Bernard de Monvel 1929

Manik Bagh, the Modernist Palace of Holkar built 1930 -1932
Holkar's miminalist structure was filled with amazing furniture and fixtures by European designers Louis Sognot, Charlotte Alix, George Djo-Bourgois or France and the great Eckart Muthesius of Berlin.

Holkar's office at Manik Bagh

I like the fact that these uber wealthy Maharajas brought Modernist design to India through their commissioned Palaces.  Today this tradition continues with the world's largest house in Mumbai, built by the Mukesh Ambani, an industrial Moghul worth an estimated $27 Billion.
I wonder, if Holkar were alive today, would he have built something like this 27 story house, with a theater, ballroom, garden, swimming pool, salon, health club, three helipads and an air traffic control station on the roof, requiring 600 in staff?
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M said...

This is the kind of post that keeps me coming back to your blog. You are very well read. I also enjoy your opinion pieces because you make an effort to have an informed point of view. (And, of course, it's fun to look at the beautiful jewelry). Thanks.

Deja Pseu said...

That's fascinating! I'm always intruigued to learn about how different cultures inspired each other aesthetically, intellectually and musically.

Art Deco is one of my very favorite design periods!

teawithonesugarplease said...

Amazing that last building of course you have to have all that when you have that much money.....PS belated Happy New Year

David Toms said...

For some reason your blog has not been updating on my blog roll, and was wondering where you were. There is a fantastic exhibition on here at the moment at the Art Gallery on the Maharajas! It is wonderful to see the pictures, the clothes, the jewels, furniture and even carriages and cars on exhibition. It was truly a golden age! You have chosen the perfect pictures, which I just might have to steal!

Mariann said...


Christina @ Fashion's Most Wanted said...

I'd love an art deco bathroom! xx

Jill said...

That house reminds me of legos.

I'm off to buy the looks like a must have! Thanks for this!!

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