Extraordinary Treasures: Maharajas & Mughal Magnificence

The Fine Art Group is honoured to be collaborating closely with Christie’s to bring a portion of this exceptional collection to auction on 19th June in New York.

With almost four hundred lots spanning over five hundred years, Maharajas & Mughal Magnificence presents an unprecedented group of jewels, gemstones, and decorative objects that explores the creative dialogue between the Indian subcontinent and Europe.

Maharajas & Mughal Magnificence goes on view at Christie’s New York on Friday 14th June.

The Arcot II D Colour, Internally Flawless, 17.21 carats
One of two diamonds presented to Queen Charlotte, wife of King George III by Muhammad Ali Wallajah, Nawab of Arcot. © The Al Thani Collection 2013. All rights reserved. Photographs taken by Prudence Cuming

These treasures date from the Mughal Empire of the sixteenth century and include carved emeralds ranging in weight from approximately 10 to over 200 carats, the famed ‘Arcot II’ diamond, presented to Queen Charlotte, wife of King George III, by Muhammad Ali Wallajah Nawab of Arcot (lot 98), and a Cartier diamond rivière necklace originally from the collection of the Nizams of Hyderabad, comprising of almost 200 carats of Golconda diamonds (lot 22).

Golconda Diamond Rivière Necklace Hyderabad, circa 1890
The seven largest diamonds ranging from 9.90 to 24.38 carats from the collection of the Nizams of Hyderabad. © The Al Thani Collection 2017. All rights reserved. Photographs taken by Prudence Cuming

During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, jewellery production in India was hugely influenced by European tastes and techniques. Maharajas and members of India’s ruling elite travelled to Paris to have their gems re-set by fashionable jewellers such as Cartier. Perhaps the earliest example is the stunning Aigrette designed by Paul Iribe in Paris 1910 and set with a large hexagonal carved emerald (lot 356). Cartier travelled extensively within India to source gemstones and was greatly inspired by the culture and architecture. The Patiala Ruby Choker (lot 272), created by Cartier in 1931 for Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala is another superb example of the fusion between East and West.

The Patiala Ruby Choker Cartier, Paris, 1931
From the collection of Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala. © The Al Thani Collection 2013. All rights reserved. Photographs taken by Prudence Cuming

The work of leading contemporary jewellers, such as Bhagat and JAR, continues to reflect the influence of India. Included in the sale is an elephant head brooch, modelled in titanium and incorporating a Belle Époque style diamond aigrette (lot 148). Designed by JAR in 2013, this sculptural brooch draws on the Indian tradition of adoring royal animals with jewellery.

The encyclopaedic Al Thani Collection will, from next year, be shown at a spectacular new museum space in Paris, exploring diverse areas of the collection previously unseen. In addition to further acquisitions, sale proceeds will support ongoing initiatives of The Al Thani Collection Foundation which extend from exhibitions, publications and lectures to sponsorships of projects at museums around the world.

For more information visit the Christie’s website

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