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Christie's announces final details of Maharajas & Mughal Magnificence
A Ceremonial Sword of the Nizams Of Hyderabad Hyderabad, Central India, 1880-1900. © Christie's Images Ltd 2019.

NEW YORK, NY.- Following the success of the global tour of highlights, Christie’s announces final details of the most anticipated jewelry and objects sale of the season, Maharajas & Mughal Magnificence. This landmark auction is poised to be the most valuable and precious collection of jewelry and Mughal objects to ever come to auction. New confirmed details include availability of illustrated digital catalogues, exhibition dates, and sale details. The specially designed exhibition will be open to the public from 14-18 June and will feature the entire selection offered for auction ahead of the sale on 19 June 2019 at Christie’s New York.

Maharajas & Mughal Magnificence presents an unprecedented group of jewels, gemstones, and decorative objects. Consisting of almost four hundred lots spanning over five hundred years, this landmark auction showcases the illustrious culture of Indian jeweled arts from the Mughal period and the age of the Maharajas, exploring the creative dialogue between India and the West, through to the present day. The collection begins in Mughal India, under the most important dynasty that ruled the country, famous for its emeralds, diamonds, sapphires, rubies, weapons and objects that are bejeweled beyond belief. It traces the history of jewelry from early Mughal India through the Maharajas and their collaboration with the world’s most renowned jewelry houses to create some of the most exceptional pieces of jewelry ever made. The sale is presented in partnership between Christie’s market-leading Jewellery department, led by Rahul Kadakia, and World Art department, led by William Robinson, along with the independent art advisory firm The Fine Art Group.

These objects are offered from The Al Thani Collection. From next year, works of art from this encyclopedic collection will be shown at a new museum space in Paris. In addition to new 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.

Guillaume Cerutti, Chief Executive Officer of Christie’s, remarks: “This landmark collection traces the history of Mughal jewels and objects to the present day representing the most significant collection of its type ever to come to auction. The sale of this notable collection will therefore present a truly significant cultural moment and offers a milestone opportunity for collectors. Having shared many of these impressive pieces over recent years through a series of publications and travelling exhibitions, we are honoured that The Al Thani Collection has entrusted us to find new homes for these exquisite objects. From next year, we can look forward to exploring other areas of this diverse and encyclopaedic collection at the new museum space opening in Paris.”

The Mughals and their Empire: Bejeweled Objects, Jewels, and Gemstones
The collection begins in Mughal India, showcasing 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, gemstones, and magnificent Royal portraits.

Among the many notable Mughal royal objects represented is a jade hilted dagger once owned by Shah Jahan, creator of the Taj Mahal, a jade cup with an ibex head so realistically carved that the Chinese Emperor Qianlong composed a poem in its honor, and a diamond and enamel covered gold huqqa pipe, revealing Indian opulence at its best. Other bejeweled objects include a gem set mace, set on finial with large Mughal-cut diamond, and an emerald, ruby and diamond set gold state pen case and inkwell, a symbol of power at court.

From the regional courts within the Mughal empire, the collection encompasses sensational sarpechs (turban ornaments), important necklaces such as a diamond rivière necklace originally from the collection of the Nizam of Hyderabad comprising almost 200 carats of Golconda diamonds and the Nizam of Hyderabad’s diamond encrusted state sword, which illustrate the rich history of bejewelled-ornamentation in India. Also featured are carved Mughal emeralds, ranging in weight from approximately 10 carats 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, and the magnificent ‘Mirror of Paradise’ D colour Internally Flawless Golconda diamond of 52.58 carats.

The Maharajas and Emergence of the British Raj: Conversations between India and the West
These significant historical pieces are complemented by an important selection of creations from the 20th century by the major houses of Bulgari, Cartier, Janesich, Lacloche, Linzeler, Mauboussin, and Mellerio.

The Patiala Ruby Choker created by Cartier in 1931 is a superb example of the fusion between India and the West. Commissioned by Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala, one of Cartier’s most important Indian clients of the 1920s and 1930s, he often traveled to Paris with trunks of diamonds and gemstones from his treasury for Cartier’s workshops. Another significant example by Cartier is the Carved Emerald Brooch and interchangeable Jigha mounting which uses an impressive 19th century hexagonal carved emerald of 380.98 carats. The two-sided carving depicts Lord Rama, his wife Sita, Hanuman, and a poppy blossom on the reverse.

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. 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 worn by Anita Delgado, his fifth wife, whom he met while wearing the jewel on his own turban.

Contemporary Jewels: Influence through to the Present Day
The collection continues through present day including contemporary creations inspired by Indian motifs by Bhagat and JAR. Featured contemporary pieces include a Five-strand Diamond and Natural Pearl Necklace, inspired by the multiple-row pearl necklaces worn throughout history by male Indian royalty, created by Bhagat in 2012, and a Diamond, Cacholong, Sapphire and Titanium Brooch, incorporating a Belle Époque style diamond aigrette, relating to the Indian tradition of dressing royal animals with jewellery, designed by JAR in 2013.

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