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Christie's announces Maharajas & Mughal Magnificence - New York auction
A landmark auction, it will take place in New York on 19 June 2019, presenting an outstanding selection of exceptional Mughal jewellery, objects, and important gemstones
By: Diamond World News Service
Apr 25 2019 12:06PM
Reference: 18176  


Consisting of almost four hundred lots spanning over five hundred years, the auction showcases the illustrious culture of Indian jeweled arts from the Mughal period and the age of the Maharajas through to the present day. Highlights of the auction will be exhibited in London beginning April 24 and in Shanghai from April 25, marking the start of a global tour which will travel to Geneva, Hong Kong and New York.

Maharajas & Mughal Magnificence presents an unprecedented group of jewels, gemstones, and decorative objects exploring the creative dialogue between India and the West.

 The selection encompasses significant Mughal jewels, including sensational sarpechs (turban ornaments), significant necklaces such as the Imperial Spinel Necklace, and a diamond rivière necklace originally from the collection of the Nizam of Hyderabad comprising almost 200 carats of Golconda diamonds.  Also featured are carved Mughal emeralds, ranging in weight from approximately 10 carats to over 200 carats, one of the famed Arcotdiamonds and the magnificent ‘Mirror of Paradise’ D colour Internally Flawless Golconda diamond of 52.58 carats.

These significant historical jewels are complemented by a strong selection of important creations from the 20thcentury from the major houses of Bulgari, Cartier, Janesich, Lacloche, Linzeler, Mauboussin, and Mellerio, along with contemporary creations by Bhagat and JAR.

The Patiala Ruby Choker is a superb example of the fusion between India and the West.  Commissioned by Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala and created by Cartier in 1931, the exquisite ruby, diamond and pearl necklace represents one of the greatest relationships that developed during this period.  The Maharaja of Patiala was one of Cartier’s most important Indian clients of the 1920s and 1930s, often traveling to Paris with trunks of diamonds and gemstones from his treasury for Cartier’s workshops to produce incredible jewels that captured the romance between the two cultures. 

The Enamel and Diamond Peacock Aigrette, by Mellerio dits Meller, was purchased by the Maharaja Jagatjit Singh of Kapurthala in 1905 during one of his trips to Paris.  A great connoisseur of French culture, the Maharaja was captivated by the peacock motif of the aigrette, a bird that is still greatly revered in India today.  In later years, the aigrette would be seen worn by Anita Delgado, his fifth wife, whom he met one evening while wearing the Mellerio jewel on his own turban. 

This collection exemplifies the true extent of the sophistication of artistic production from the Royal courts of India from the 17th century onwards. These treasures comprise the most delicate jades, vivid enamels, opulent jewels and magnificent Royal portraits. Among the many highlights illustrating the scope of this collection are a jade-hilted dagger once owned by Shah Jahan, the intriguing magic box of Tipu Sultan, the heavily diamond-encrusted state sword of the Nizam of Hyderabad, and a diamond and enamel covered gold huqqa, revealing Indian opulence at its best. A jade cup, the naturalistic form terminating in an ibex head, was so astounding that the Chinese Emperor Qianlong (r.1735-1796) composed a poem in its honor which he had inscribed on the interior.  Alongside these highlights are numerous fabulous works of art showcasing the development of the intricate enameling techniques that started at the Mughal court, and then spread to all the leading local kingdoms throughout the subcontinent, each with its own workshop, making sumptuous works of art and jewels that embodied the power and wealth of these competing Rulers. 

François Curiel, Chairman, Christie’s Europe, remarks “This landmark collection traces the history of Mughal jewels and objects to present day and represents the most significant collection of its type ever to come to auction. This project is a true partnership between our market-leading Jewellery department, led by Rahul Kadakia, and World Art department, led by William Robinson, along with independent art advisory firm The Fine Art Group. The collection begins in Mughal India, the most important dynasty that ruled the country, famous for its emeralds, diamonds, sapphires, rubies, jeweled weapons and objects that are bejeweled beyond belief. From exceptional daggers worn by the elite Nobles and Royal families of India to important jewels inspired by Indian tradition and architecture, the auction of this notable collection presents a truly significant cultural moment and offers a milestone opportunity for collectors.”

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