The 19th century was a time of exceptional technological advancement and innovation. While lighting before the onset of the Victorian era included candelabras, oil lamps and chandeliers lit with candles, electricity would soon be introduced into homes transforming lighting fixtures forever. This period was also a time of great artistry with craftsmanship being elevated with the Arts and Crafts movement, Art Nouveau and the Art Deco era. Home decor became more elaborate as time passed, the details more intricate and eclecticism quite prevalent.
Rushaad Dastur, auction specialist, AstaGuru Auction House, says, “In the last few years, leading designers too, whether in India or abroad, have returned to antique lighting due to its unique blend of history, craftsmanship, and character. Antique lighting pieces, whether chandeliers, sconces, or lamps, embody a sense of timelessness that can elevate a space’s aesthetic. These pieces often carry stories from bygone eras, adding depth and intrigue to a design. Incorporating these elements into contemporary designs creates a captivating juxtaposition, lending a sense of nostalgia and sophistication that resonates with both the designer and their clients.”
Some lighting objects that showcase the best of the artistry of the 19th and early 20th century will be presented in AstaGuru’s ‘Imperial Treasures’ auction, on August 12-13.
The first item on the list is a 10-light cut glass and silvered mounted chandelier executed by Osler circa 1850. The design is a classic tent and waterfall, with two drop canopies terminating in a scalloped top piece. The waterfall comprises concentric rings with spangles and suspended prism drops while the main ring features faceted spikes and star cut flower rosettes.
Another Osler special is a pair of kerosene lamps featuring heavily cut, fine quality white crystal with frosted storm shades that feature floral motif etchings. F&C Osler was first established in 1807 in Birmingham by Thomas Osler. In the 19th century, they would become the leading British glassmakers, creating exceptional chandeliers and glass furniture. They were known for their impressive crystal quality and attention to detail in each of their pieces.
French luxury glassmaker Baccarat was founded in 1764 in East France. Their early work was predominantly mirrors, windows and tableware after which they diversified into objects such as chandeliers in the 19th century. This impressive 18-light chandelier of the late 19th century is testament to their craftsmanship. The doré chandelier features decorative crystal pendants in varying shapes including florettes, stars, pendeloques and spikes. The cut-crystal shaft in the centre ends in a decorative crystal ball.
Renowned jeweller and glassmaker René Lalique first took interest in glassworks in 1907 and then created unique, intricate perfume bottles and lighting. An exquisite example is this globular glass plafonnier, executed in the 20th century, with an all-relief leaf design.
The ‘Provence’ design was introduced by Lalique for the first time in 1927. His son, Marc Lalique, took over the business in 1922, creating equally artistic lighting fixtures. This pair of glass figural sconces by Marc were executed circa 1950, and feature central ballerina figures against a mirrored back and frosted glass shades.
Presented here is an exceptional 28-light Murano glass chandelier. The island of Murano off Venice, Italy, was home to some of the most famed glassblowers in the world. This chandelier, featuring a central shaft decorated with swirls and flower motifs, is evidence of their unparalleled craftsmanship. Reminiscent of the ‘Ciocce’ style, the main body consists of Venetian coloured glass flowers terminating in a large receiver bowl decorated with a bouquet of flowers.
Gold gilt bronze and silver were popular metals used for candelabras of the time. One such example is a pair of Art Nouveau silver candelabras by famed silversmith Vietor, Berlin. The pair features seven holders with fixed nozzles and a circular support with an openwork design featuring scrolls and ivy.
Another impressive example from the 20th century is a pair of gold gilt bronze candelabras with bowls. The pair features a foliate design and six branches with leaves. The central column is decorated with more foliage and angels, and rests on three feet.
“Contrary to expectations, the Indian auction market has remained remarkably resilient in the face of the unprecedented pandemic-induced changes. Online auctions, in particular, have thrived. In fact, the past few years have proven to be exceptionally fruitful to the overall advancement of the Indian art market,” says Dastur. According to the State of Art Market Report 2021, the cumulative turnover from Indian art sales has soared from ₹13 crores in the year 2000 to a staggering ₹880.9 crores in FY21. Between 2020-2022, the revenue from watches increased by 168% and that from jewellery by 255%.
“While art auctions have been one of the most crucial segment for AstaGuru, we have, over the years, diversified our portfolio, which now includes categories such as Modern & Contemporary Indian Art, International Art, Vintage Jewellery & Fine Silver, Collectibles, Timepieces, Textiles, Celebrity Memorabilia, Rare Books, Numismatic, Philately and Vintage Cars,” says Dastur. “In our ‘Masters Legacy’ auction held in April, Landscape by F.N. Souza was acquired at a value of ₹6,85,69,952. In the Contemporary Indian Art category, Raqib Shaw’s Fall Of The Jade Kingdom II — Paradise Lost II was sold for ₹2,56,55,424. Our recently concluded ‘International Iconic’ auction, showcasing works by renowned artists from around the globe, saw the sale of Profile by Marc Chagall for ₹4,95,08,082.”
AstaGuru’s ‘Imperial Treasures’ auction will present a plethora of antiques and rare collectibles that showcase the finest artistry of 19th and 20th century India, China, Japan, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom, among other countries.