Friday, February 22, 2013

Second "Jazz" Screen Emerges in Charity Auction

Indore "Jazz" screen                                Image courtesy Bid & Hammer
Hello Dear Readers.  While reviewing my backlog of emails I came across a delightful press release that was forwarded from a subscriber in India.  As I predicted in my previous post, the second and more   famous "Jazz" screen by art deco designer Etienne Drian has resurfaced...
Maharaja of Indore's "Jazz" screen         Image via Paul Fraser Collectibles
The screen is being offered as the centerpiece of charity auction on March 9th which is part of the inaugural "One World Retreat" held in Jodhpur to benefit the Indian Head Injury Foundation.  It seems a noble and worthy cause attracting artifacts and philanthropists from across the globe (including Sting).  You can read the press release here.

It seems that the screen has not traveled too far in the past eighty years as it was was executed for the ballroom/theatre of the Maharaja of Indore's art deco Manik Bagh palace.  Paul Fraser Collectibles blog notes that the Maharaja of Indore acquired the screen at a French exhibition in 1931 which is a new bit of information in its history.  I have reached out to the auction company running the sale (Bid & Hammer) for further information and images so I will keep you posted on my findings.  Hopefully it is in better condition than its sister that sold at Christie's New York in June of 2011 for $110,500.  According to Paul Fraser the sale estimate for the Indore screen is $736,000-1,100,000.  This seems rather steep considering how the example at Christie's performed, but it is for a good cause so wee shall see how it goes.  On a side note, the screen sold at Christie's was beautifully restored by the experts at Lowy in New York City.  You can see the process over at their blog


A client service representative from Bid & Hammer has thankfully forwarded better images and the cataloging for their screen.
Indore "Jazz" screen                                    Image courtesy Bid & Hammer
 The cataloging highlights the fact that the screen was in-fact purchased from an exhibition in France by the Maharaja Yeshwant Rao Holkar II of Indore in 1931 and placed in the Music Room of his fabled art deco Manik Bagh Palace.  The screen then passed by descent to his daughter, Usha Devi, the present Maharani of Indore who in turn gifted it to the present owner in 1977.  From the images the screen appears to be in an excellent state of preservation which is not often the case with the verre eglomise works of Etienne Drian.  The sale estimate was confirmed to be $740,740-1,111,111.  The estimate does cause a bit of sticker shock, but the condition and stellar Indore provenance are strong attributes in its favor.  

For those not in the know, Maharaja Yeshwant Rao Holkar II of Indore was Oxford educated and quite the aesthete.
Portrait of the Maharaja of Indore, Yeswant Rao Holkar (1908-1961) by Bernard Boutet de Monvel
I have always found his 1934 portrait in traditional dress to be haunting.  Modern and lavish yet with an austerity that demands attention. This is counter-balanced by his companion portrait in Western evening clothes.
Portrait of the Maharaja of Indore, Yeswant Rao Holkar (1908-1961) by Bernard Boutet de Monvel
He succeeded his father as Maharaja of Indore in 1926 and in 1930 commissioned German architect Eckart Muthesius to design a refined art deco palace.  The young architect worked in cooperation with the premier art deco and avant guard designers of the day including Charlotte Perriand and Pierre Jeanneret, Charlotte Alix and Louis Sognot, Eileen Gray and Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann.  The result was a late art deco masterwork moving toward the international style.
Maharaja's Bedroom, Manik Bagh Palace             Image via Arnoldsche
This is evidenced by the Maharaja's sleek cool bedroom seen above.  The contents were disbursed in a celebrated sale at Sotheby's Monaco in 1980, therefore items do turn up at auction and their provenance is a major factor in the estimates and prices realized.
Maharaja's Bed, designed by Louis Sognot and Charlotte Alix    Image via
The Maharaja's bed was last at auction at Sotheby's in 2003 and achieved $209,600.  An example of Eileen Gray's "Transat" chair is also seen in the period image of the bedroom.  It surfaced again at Sotheby's Paris in 2011 but failed to sell on an estimate of €700,000-1,000,000.
Eileen Gray, "Transat" Chair, circa 1930        Image via
Entrance Hall of Manik Bagh Palace    Image via Arnoldsche
I have included the image above as it captures the understated opulence that greeted one right at the front door.  It also shows a rare Muthesius floor lamp, one of a pair designed specifically for this commission.  The pair surfaced once more at Christie's Paris in 2009 from the collection of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge achieving a staggering €2,529,000 against an estimate of €400,000-600,000.
Torcheres designed by Eckart Muthesius for Manik Bagh Palace    Image via
One final example of the allure of and Indore provenance comes in the form of chrome and glass wall shelves that were designed by Muthesius for the palace's library.
Detail of the library from Manik Bagh Palace       Image via
The set of shelves, chic and yet unassuming, were offered at Christie's Paris from the Collection of the Chateau de Gourdon in 2011 at an estimate of €400,000-600,000, achieving €481,000.
Wall mounted shelves from the library at Manik Bagh Palace   Image via
I look forward to the results of the One World Retreat auction on March 9th.  I hope the screen achieves a record for Drian and benefits a noble cause in the process.  Again for more information contact Bid & Hammer or the One World Retreat.


The One World Retreat auction took place last weekend and unfortunately the screen failed to sell.  Bid & Hammer Auctioneers are still entertaining after sale offers if you are interested.--AR