ANTIQUE 20thC ROYAL INDIAN OOMERSEE MAWJEE JR SOLID SILVER QUAILS TEA SET c.1920

ANTIQUE 20thC ROYAL INDIAN OOMERSEE MAWJEE JR SOLID SILVER QUAILS TEA SET c.1920

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20th Century Indian Magnificent Cutch silver three piece tea service, modeled as seated, well-rounded quails, realistically decorated with detailed feathers and richly gilded interior.

Enough of one mark was left to decipher the rectangular shapes with the letters “O.M BARODA”, but the attribution is nevertheless confirmed in terms of style and exceptional quality. Equally distinctive is the circle within each base struck with the marks (see comparisons with base of the set in the Virginia Art Museum, figs. 4-5).

Hallmarked English Import silver (.9584 Britannia standard), Sheffield, year 1967 (Z), Importer F.D (F Drury Ltd, Gilleyfield Avenue, Dore, Sheffield).



REFERENCE NUMBER: A5297

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DESCRIPTION

Antique 20th Century Indian Magnificent Cutch solid silver three piece tea service, modeled as seated, well-rounded quails, realistically decorated with detailed feathers and richly gilded interior. The large quail modelled as teapot with its head hinging open along the beak to serve as the spout and the serpent serving as the handle with insulators. The milk jug quail with a hinged head and the other as sugar bowl with well concealed hinged lid on the back.

Another almost identical matched three piece quails tea set, teapot with a leaf-capped handle and the milk jug with a snake by Oomersee Mawjee Jr, formerly in the Paul F. Walter Collection can now be seen in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 2011.248 (See Vidhya Dehejia, Delight in Design: Indian silver for the British Raj, New York, 2008, no. 23, pp. 92 & 93) and undeniably a lesser quality example was sold in Bonhams, Indian, Himalayan & South Asian art, lot 62, 18 March 2013, making this the earliest, most complete and finest quality example to have come on the market.

Oomersee Mawjee is recognized as one of India's greatest silversmiths. Based in Bhuj, in the Kutch district of Western India he was appointed court silversmith to his highness the Mahrao of Cutch, also very popular with patrons from the British Army and civilian personnel. He also enjoyed the patronage of Anglophile Indians who adopted the western fashion of preparing tea with the three separate elements.

The set here presented appears to be the most coherent in terms of quality and design, suggesting that it might have been one of the first being produced, possibly after a design by Oomersee Mawjee senior (renowned for his naturalistic handles in the form of cobras).

Another element that makes the present set particularly interesting is the fact that Oomersee Mawjee Jr. in the 1920-1930 was master silversmith in the employ of the Gaekwad of Baroda (fig. 3, Dehejia, cit. loc.). Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III (1863-1939) was a noted patron of arts, and during his reign Baroda became a hub for artists and scholars. Even the celebrated painter, Raja Ravi Varma, moved to his court during this period. He amassed an impressive collection of jewels, jewellery and silverware.

This might explain why the present design appears to be rarer than the one shaped as black francolins produced by his father, Oomersee Mawjee senior.

It is noticeable that in the present set the silversmith’s marks have been almost completely erased when the set was imported or possibly just assayed to be sold in Sheffield in 1967.

It was common practise and even a legal requirement for assayers to remove unknown marks considered spurious when a foreign silver item was tested. In 1967 there was no knowledge of Indian silversmiths that might have justified keeping “O.M” marks, it was only the silver purity that had to be coherent with British standards.

Enough of one mark was left to decipher the rectangular shapes with the letters “O.M BARODA”, but the attribution is nevertheless confirmed in terms of style and exceptional quality. Equally distinctive is the circle within each base struck with the marks (see comparisons with base of the set in the Virginia Art Museum, figs. 4-5).

Hallmarked English Import silver (.9584 Britannia standard), Sheffield, year 1967 (Z), Importer F.D (F Drury Ltd, Gilleyfield Avenue, Dore, Sheffield, active 1964-1994).

CONDITION

In Excellent Condition - No Damage.


SIZE

TEAPOT
Height: 17cm
Width: 21 x 11cm
Weight: 545g

SUGAR BOWL
Height: 9cm
Width: 14 x 8cm
Weight: 230g

CREAM JUG
Height: 11cm
Width: 15 x 8cm
Weight: 275g