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An Indian Blackwood Armchair
Bombay Presidency, third quarter, 19th century
Profusely carved with pierced foliage and a pale pink covered seat
Estimated price: $1,000-1,400

From about 1850 to 1900, Bombay was the production centre of a particular type of rosewood furniture known as ‘blackwood’. It was typified by its rich, exuberant carving which was often pierced right through.

In overall shape, blackwood furniture followed mid-19th century English pattern book designs reviving the Louis XV style of the middle 18th century. However, since the workers producing this furniture in Bombay were largely immigrants from the neighbouring state of Gujarat, their furniture is strongly influenced by traditional motifs found on house fronts in the Gujarati cities of Ahmedabad and Surat.

In both India and Europe at this time there was, in some quarters, a perceived link between the luxury of a piece of furniture and the degree to which it was carved, so it was probably inevitable that Bombay furniture makers would seek to decorate every surface as richly as possible. As always there was a reaction to such riotous, restless carving and by the end of the century European consumers had moved on to much more restrained furniture designs, both domestic and foreign, ushering in the end of the Bombay blackwood industry.

Christie’s Interiors sale will be held at London, South Kensington on July 23 and 24, 2013. For more information please visit http://www.christies.com.

First published in the Adbuzzzz Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on July 21, 2013.