Intarawut Gallery Presents Oomersi Mawji Workshop Drawings Exhibition

. September 5, 2011 . 0 Comments

An important exhibition: A Rare Collection of Workshop Drawings from the Renowned Indian Silversmith, Oomersi Mawji OOMERSI MAWJI, will be held at Marc J. Matz ~ Antiques & Works of Art in association with the Intarawut Gallery in Damariscotta, Maine from September 17-30th.

The exhibition will feature over sixty previously unknown, meticulous works on paper of silver objects and jewelry produced by the famous Oomersi Mawji, and later his sons, from the 1860’s through the firm’s final years in the early 1930’s.

During his lifetime — from his humble beginnings as a cobbler in Bhuj, in the region of Kutch in Gujarat — Oomersi Mawji (whose maker’s mark was OM), became the most celebrated Indian silversmith during the Raj period, with a large international clientele; current scholars also laud Oomersi Mawji as perhaps the greatest silversmith of the Nineteenth century. He participated in major international exhibitions and became the court silversmith to the Maharaja of Kutch.

Luxury goods from India were first widely introduced at the Indian section of the Great Exhibition of London in 1851 (with its 15,000 objects), as well as numerous other exhibitions in Europe and America during the latter half of the Nineteenth Century. The Indian exhibits had an enormous influence, introducing the Indian aesthetic to the world market, and dramatically influenced the silver produced by Tiffany, Gorham, and Whiting in America, who incorporated Indian styles into their work. In 1885, the department store, Liberty & Co., brought forty “living village artisans” from India, including Kutch silversmiths, to London, opening a promotional workshop, selling these silverwares at their store in London and through their catalogues.

The collection of drawings in the Marc J. Matz gallery exhibition, together with a number of designs, which were previously published in V. Dehijia’s Delight in Design, Indian Silver for the Raj, complete a more detailed picture of the Oomersi Mawji workshop. Oomersi Mawji not only produced magnificent repoussé silver, but also incorporated the extensive use of exotic materials favored during the Raj period, including mother-of-pearl, ebony wood, elephant ivory, boar’s teeth and tiger’s claws. The latter of which, were used with gold in several magnificent jewelry designs.

Many of the drawings include Mawji’s trademark intricate densely scrolling vines and animal motif: his elephants in combat and his birds placed in branches as if they were ornaments in a magnificent Mughal palace textile.

In their day, the highly detailed Oomersi Mawji workshop drawings were not only intended to guide the master craftsman, but also to exhibit work to prospective clients. Some of the drawings are inscribed with notes referencing specific clients, whose names appear in the inscriptions, along with gold and silver weights, dimensions, and their cost in Indian rupees. These works on paper, offer an extraordinary glimpse into the design process itself, showing an individual piece from several perspectives on a single sheet, most on English watermarked paper,
the earliest dated 1863.

Today, examples from Oomersi Mawji’s workshop are included in major museums around the world, from the classic tea set held at the V&A in London (related drawings are included in the Matz exhibit), to the cobra water jug at the Musee Guimet in Paris, and to a Kutch rosewater sprinkler at Harvard’s Arthur M. Sackler Musum. Five years ago, the Sackler exhibited six masterworks by Oomersi Mawji in its exhibition Silver and Shawls. The design drawing for a presentation trowel, similar to one exhibited at the Sackler, is now included in the Matz exhibition.

The Oomersi Mawji exhibition will run from September 18-30th at the Intarawut Gallery located at 136 Main Street in Damariscotta, Maine. An online catalogue will be available at www.marcmatz.com. There will be an opening reception from 5-8 PM on September 17th. For additional information contact the gallery at 207 563 8899 or email marcmatz@aol.com.

Category: Antiques News

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