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Antique fine Anglo Indian  (Vizagapatam) Sandalwood, horn, and ivory basket form box Circa 1870

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Reference: SB536

Description:
SB536: An Anglo Indian sandalwood basket veneered in horn and ivory. Although such baskets were a popular Vizagapatam design, this one is very unusual in that it combines both solid ivory panels incised and lac filled in traditional plant motifs and fretted ivory work. Furthermore, the central cartouches are engraved with representations of Indian deities and not floral designs which was the normal decoration on such baskets. It stands on lion paw feet. The handle is decorated with scrolling flowers in characteristic fashion. Circa 1870.

Origin: India, Vizagapatam;  Circa:  1870; Materials: sandalwood, horn ivory.

Size: 30.5 cm wide by 33.2cm by 9.5cm:   inches wide by   inches by   inches.

Condition: good overall; there are some small losses to the fretted ivory; see images

 

SB536: A sandalwood basket veneered in horn and ivory. Although such baskets were a popular Vizagapatam design, this one is very unusual in that it combines both solid ivory panels incised and lac filled in traditional plant motifs and fretted ivory work. Furthermore, the central cartouches are engraved with representations of Indian deities and not floral designs which was the normal decoration on such baskets. It stands on lion paw feet. The handle is decorated with scrolling flowers in characteristic fashion. Circa 1870.  Enlarge Picture

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The workmanship in this basket is extremely fine. This is all the more so when consideration is given to the difficulty of working in materials such as ivory and buffalo horn. When this work was made it was prestigious and expensive.

There are similarities between the work in this basket and a davenport sold by Christie's in New York (lot 424 30th January 1988). The exhibition label inside the davenport is inscribed ' executed by Royal workmen in the Rajah's palace. Name  of chief Artisan I. Venkatadas...'

SB536: A sandalwood basket veneered in horn and ivory. Although such baskets were a popular Vizagapatam design, this one is very unusual in that it combines both solid ivory panels incised and lac filled in traditional plant motifs and fretted ivory work. Furthermore, the central cartouches are engraved with representations of Indian deities and not floral designs which was the normal decoration on such baskets. It stands on lion paw feet. The handle is decorated with scrolling flowers in characteristic fashion. Circa 1870.-Enlarge Picture

See:
A davenport illustrated at Fig.98 ((courtesy of Christies) of Furniture of British India and Ceylon, Amin Jaffer, V&A Publications 2001 ISBN: 1851773185

Davenport of sandalwood veneered with tortoiseshell and ivory and overlaid with ivory fretwork made by I. Venkatadas for G. N. Gajapathi Rao, Maharaja of Vizianagram, Vizagapatam, c.1880.

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The work of the Indian artist/craftsman was recognized as an invaluable source for satisfying the need for furniture and boxes, which would both serve and enhance the English household in India . It was not long before the English wished for their households at home to be enriched with such exotic work. India was rightly perceived in Europe as a land of immense culture. Architectural drawings of Indian buildings were already in circulation. Indian mythology, religion and iconography fascinated the mind of the Europeans at a time of intense intellectual and artistic exploration. 

 

See: Antique Boxes, Tea Caddies, and Society, 1700--1880 
Antigone Clarke & Joseph O'Kelly,
ISBN: 0764316885

"The most popular "basket" box was veneered in incised ivory. It featured two sloping lids and a central handle. Horn edgings were usual, giving a defining contrasting color to the shape. The ivory baskets were decorated with floral borders in incised and lac filled ivory and also featured a central complementary motif."

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After the middle of the 18th century, the East India Company was well ensconced in the Indian centers of British trade and power. One commodity they and the Royal Africa Company traded in was elephant tusks from Africa . These were much bigger than the tusks of the native Asian elephants and yielded larger plates of ivory. There was not much demand for ivory in England . English box makers were finding ivory difficult to work with on account of its curving and cracking.

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 The horn has faded to a beautiful translucent luster.

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 The fretting of the ivory is extremely fine. There appear to be no saw marks even when viewed under magnification.  

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The box stands on carved lion paw feet.

 

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All text and images and linked images are 1999-2010 Antigone Clarke and Joseph O'Kelly. If you require any further information on permitted use, or a licence to republish any material, email us at copyright@hygra.com