India Room

From the beginning of the Fifteenth Century, Portugal established its colonial domination of territories in India as well as other parts of Southeast Asia and Africa, with its center in Goa along India’s west coast. From Portuguese settlements in India, extraordinary decorative arts arrived in Europe, including furniture, textiles and objects melding European and Indian Mughal designs. Today, surviving examples include lavishly inlaid cabinets and boxes, splendid ivory figural church carvings, and meticulous miniature paintings depicting biblical scenes.


By the 18th century, domination of the Indian subcontinent shifted firmly to the British East India Company. From that point, hybrid furniture designs from India were insired byLondon cabinetmaker references such as works by Chippendale, Hepplewhite, and George Smith. These design publications arrived on voyages to India, within months of publication. Early examples of so-called Anglo-Indian furniture included ivory chairs, dressing mirrors, knife boxes and bureau-bookcases.


Company School paintings produced by Indian artists -- from botanical and ornithological studies, to court scenes with foreigners, began to emerge in important centers such as Lucknow during the 18th century. At the same time, British artists such as Tilly Kettle, John Smart and George Chinnery, arrived in India to make their fortunes, painting British residents and Indian princes. British and Chinese silversmiths set up workshops in Calcutta and Madras in the 18th century and produced sumptuous tea sets, curry pots and trophies. Later in the 19th century, Indian silversmiths, such as the remarkable Oomersi Mawji of Cutch, emerged on to the world stage. Throughout the last three centuries, India has produced all manners of exquisite and outstanding fine and decorative arts. Examples from the Matz Collection cover all of these periods.