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The Maharaja of Indore in 1877, and the Maharaja of Patiala in the 1920s
The Maharaja of Indore in 1877, and the Maharaja of Patiala in the 1920s

The singular history of the Maharajah of Indore , merges with the history of India and Europe of the XIXth and XXth centuries. He is undoubtedly one of the most emblematic and moving representative of a world forever gone.

           

Both Indian prince and European esthete, Yeshwant Rao Holkar Bahadur (1908-1961), belonged to the Holkar dynasty ruling since the 18th century over the kingdom of Indore, a huge territory located in central India, around 850 km southwest of New Delhi, now state of Madhya Pradesh.

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The Maharaja of Indore in 1877, and the Maharaja of Patiala in the 1920s
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Le Maharaja d'Indore by Bernard Boutet de Monvel, circa 1930

In addition to this, you need to know more about it.

While following the classic training of young Maharajahs of his time and rank: studies in the best English colleges and trips through Europe and the United States, the young prince, initiated by his tutor Dr. Marcel Hardy and advised by Henri-Pierre Roché, writer, artist, collector and collection advisor, stands out with a passion and a taste for the avant-garde of his time, which he will share with his young wife, Maharani Sanyogita Devi.

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1 & 2 Jacques Doucet's Hôtel Particulier was Located at 33 Rue Saint James in Neuilly sur Seine, also Named 'Le Studio Saint James'

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an elegant young "socialite" couple

The prince during these trips to Paris, frequents salons, visits exhibitions, meets artists, couturiers, collectors.

His meeting with Jacques Doucet, presented through Henri-Pierre Roché, will be decisive.

In 1930, a visionary personality in the European cultural milieu of the 1920s and 1930s, the young prince and patron of the arts, commissioned the German architect Eckart Muthesius to restructure a building which would become the very first modernist construction in his country: the Manik Palace. Bagh (1930-1933).

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Eckart Muthesius, hairdresser
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Entrance hall of the Manik Bagh Palace, © Muthesius
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Eckart Muthesius, armchair

The interior decoration will be fully furnished with works and pieces of furniture created by the European avant-garde, ranging from the creators of the Union of Modern Artists to those of the Bauhaus school, as well as Eckart Muthesius.

A study made entirely of Macassar ebony by Jacques-Émile Rulhmann . On the floors, like gigantic abstract paintings, large carpets, in geometric and colorful shapes by Franco-Brazilian Ivan Da Silva Bruhns . Among its choices, many French houses: for lighting and table pieces, Maison Desny ; for the furniture (beds, lamps, armchairs…) the modernity of aluminum and glass by Louis Sognot and Charlotte Alix , or even Eileen Gray and her recliner chair, the rocking chaise longue by Le Corbusier, Perriand, Jeanneret… For tableware, houses, Jean Luce, Jean Puiforcat, Baccarat.

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the bedroom of the Maharajah, Louis Sognot and Charlotte Alix, MAD reconstruction
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the bedroom of the Maharajah, Louis Sognot and Charlotte Alix
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Jacques-Émile Rulhmann's cabinet of Macassar
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lounge chair, Eckart Muthesius

For the arts, few chosen, Man Ray immortalizes this modern couple with his photos. Bernard Boutet de Monvel realizes their portraits in their dual culture, ball gowns and fracs alternate with traditional outfits. And finally, works by Etienne Cournault, which the prince had discovered at Jacques Doucet's, punctuate the walls of the palace with surrealist touches.

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© Man ray
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© Man ray
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© Man ray

The Maharajah visits the workshop of Constantin Brancusi and purchases one of his “birds in space” in gilded bronze. Two others, in white marble and black marble, will soon come to animate the living room in the absence of the "Temple of Meditation" project initially planned in the garden of the Palace, but which will not succeed, probably because of the arrival of the World War II and the death of the Maharani at the age of 21.

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© Man ray
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© Man ray

Today the Manik Bagh Palace, which has become an administrative monument, seat of the post and customs office, has been subjected to many modifications but we still have these design objects, which by their clean lines, their materials and their ingenuity of extreme sophistication remain the design icons of the 1930s. They embody a visionary, cosmopolitan and uninhibited era where anything was possible.

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