Eckart Muthesius - Design New York Tuesday, December 17, 2019 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Maharaja Yeshwant Rao Holkar II of Indore, circa 1931
    Bina Kilachand, Mumbai
    Acquired from the above by the present owner, 2017

  • Literature

    Reto Niggl, Eckart Muthesius 1930: The Maharaja's Palace in Indore, Architecture and Interior, Stuttgart, 1996, p. 98

  • Catalogue Essay

    Eckart Muthesius was just twenty-five years old when he met Yeshwant Rao Holkar II at a garden party hosted by the Maharaja in Oxford, England and subsequently won the commission to design and decorate his palace. Muthesius recalled years later that “It was like a fairy tale. Three hours later I had the order for the entire palace in my pocket.”

    This fairy tale palace, known as Manik Bagh, or Garden of Precious Stones, would go on to become one of the most important expressions of pre-war modern design. Muthesius designed everything from the furniture and lighting to the banisters and faucets, while also incorporating furnishings by contemporaries such as Eileen Gray and Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann. Serial production pieces in tubular metal also figured into the decorative scheme, including seating by Marcel Breuer and the chaise longue designed by Le Corbusier, Charlotte Perriand, and Pierre Jeanneret.

    Though the use of tubular metal furniture had its roots in progressive art and architecture—Perriand, for example, had hoped to make modern furniture more accessible to the public through the use of the material—these very much remained luxury items, workshop-made and produced in small quantities. Thonet’s production of certain models for Le Corbusier, Perriand, and Jeanneret numbered in the mere hundreds. Muthesius designed the present pair of bar stools for the palace’s cocktail bar, and while the manufacturer he worked with in Berlin is no longer known, only a handful of examples were created.

    In 1989 the design went into production with Vereinigte Werkstätten (ClassiCon taking over the license in 1990), which Muthesius personally oversaw, helping to adapt the design to serial production on the kind of scale Perriand had dreamed about all those years prior. There are several key differences between the present pair, created for the palace in 1931, and the later production. First, the seat of the original version attaches with screws that go directly through the top ring of the frame’s base, as opposed to through four tabs attached to the base, as seen in the ClassiCon version. The dimensions of the frame are also slightly different. While the diameter of the tube is the same, the original version is taller and wider.

    The present pair has been reupholstered but retains remnants of the original red vinyl upholstery, as well as the original webbing and horsehair padding.


Pair of stools, designed for the Maharaja of Indore's Bar, Manik Bagh Palace, Indore

circa 1931
Nickel-plated steel, leather upholstery.
Each: 33 1/4 in. (84.5 cm) high, 16 1/4 in. (41.3 cm) diameter

$30,000 - 40,000 

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+1 212 940 1265


New York Auction 17 December 2019