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Chest

India, second half of 17th century - beginning of 18th century
Carved ivory, hinges originally in silver
L. 33cm; W. 13cm; H. 19cm
Musée du Louvre, DAI, acquired 2006
MAO 2039

This chest is unusually large compared with other known Indian chests. The visual reference comes quite clearly from Mughal architecture. The decor is organized like a long arcade: multifoil arches with plant-decorated spandrels rest on baluster-columns, known as “cypress silhouette” (sarw-andam) columns, which are characteristic of Indian architecture from the seventeenth century onwards. Several of the pavilions of the Delhi fort have fluted columns with a similar profile, marked at the base with floral scallops. In various ways the chest resembles the Jarokha throne (finished in 1648) from the Diwan-i ‘Amm (public audience hall) which was contemporary with the reign of Shah Jahan. Both objects are executed in the same unctuous style, and both have a similar composition. Such comparisons suggest that the chest should be considered as a sort of miniature architecture. However, the topside of the lid displays a decor reminiscent of the arts of the book and in particular the decoration frequently used on book-bindings. This genre of decor with intertwined leaves and plant spirals was characteristic of the rather tortured and sophisticated style of the new tendencies in eighteenth century Mughal art.

Chest
Chest
MAO 2039
© RMN / Berizzi