Drawing from Literature and Legend: 4 Inspired Paintings

Four works from Saffronart’s upcoming Evening Sale in New Delhi on 20 September which draw upon themes and characters from folk tales, mythology and history.

Read more ›

Campaign Furniture: Historical Function and Design

Elizabeth Prendiville of Saffronart shares a brief introduction to campaign furniture anticipating the upcoming sale “Elegant Design”.

Upcoming Saffronart Sale "Elegant Design"

Upcoming Saffronart Sale “Elegant Design”


New York: Campaign furniture has a distinct role in history due to its unique blend of beautiful aesthetic and simple usability. Born out of necessity, the construction of these furniture pieces was revolutionary. It can be distinguished by its ability to breakdown and fold into an easy to transport state. This quality is typically constructed with the help of brass hinges or foldable legs and sides, while still maintaining a beautiful and high quality design motif.

A piece from the upcoming Saffronart sale "Elegant Design"

A piece from the upcoming Saffronart sale “Elegant Design”

Historically these pieces were made popular by the British Army in the 18th and 19th century and were typically used by travelers and military officials in the pursuit of colonial efforts. The British Army required pieces that represented the warm luxuries of home, but would not burden or weigh them down while on their campaign. As the call for these “knock-down” styles increased, the finest furniture and luggage makers began to compete over who could make the most opulent pieces while still maintaining a light and malleable design. They ranged from full-scale living furniture to carrying cases for food and toiletry items.

A piece from the upcoming Saffronart sale "Elegant Design"

A piece from the upcoming Saffronart sale “Elegant Design”

This piece of history represents a very distinct time of global expansion including major explorations in the east. “The administrators and armies of the British Empire in the Indian subcontinent were perhaps the largest consumer of campaign furniture leading to high quality local manufacturing of durable, practical and elegant ‘knock-down’ chairs, tables, desks, bookcases and beds” (J and R Guram). Furniture fit for the leaders of the British Army proved to be successful in popular culture and still remains in style today due to its durability and utilitarian beauty. A number of contemporary craftsman still continue this tradition and it is often seen in outdoor furniture, indoor furniture and high end collectible items alike. From an interior design perspective Campaign Furniture offers a balance of graceful antiquity with modern functionality that will continue to be sought after for decades to come. While this design technique began out of necessity, in present day it represents a historical golden age of travel and global expeditions. Campaign furniture will be honored in the upcoming sale “Elegant Design” featuring items such as a desks, tables, luggage and travel accessories. For more information on the sale and the items shown in this article please visit the auction website here.

“Mughal India: Art, Culture & Empire” Comes To New Delhi

Elizabeth Prendiville of Saffronart discusses the British Library’s exhibition now on display in New Delhi.

New York:  This winter, the British Library has brought its exhibition “Mughal India: Art, Culture & Empire” to New Delhi. This show provides an amazing opportunity for pieces that are usually hidden in the depths of the library collection to be shown to the public for the very first time. Originally established in Britain, and then later in Kabul, Afghanistan, this collection is a strong representation of Mughal art history. The New Delhi exhibition is produced by Roli Books in conjunction with the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts alongside the original curatorial team from the British Library. It will offer an opportunity for this period in Indian history to be told in a beautiful and informative way. 

The exhibition consists of paintings and alluringly illustrated manuscripts, most commissioned by the Mughal emperors and other important figureheads of the time. These pieces contribute an illustrative history of the Mughal Empire. Each piece contributes a beautiful crafted depiction of upperclass life at this point in history. Scenes of court gatherings, hunting, royal portraiture and Indian landscapes are all shown with picturesque detail. The emblematic quality of these images is rich. Each piece has a wealth of historical knowledge and narrative, even in a single image. In addition to these scenes, very rare books and manuscripts are featured in the exhibition including “Book of Affairs of Love” by Rai Anand Ram Mukhlis and “Notebook of Fragrance” by Shah Jahan. Because the British Library is not a museum with continual exhibitions, many of these pieces are rarely seen or displayed. Not only does this collection contribute to our overall knowledge of the cultural setting of Mughal India it also shows the worldview during this time period. Pivotal historical documents such as the first Indian atlas, a city map of Delhi and a trade route from Delhi to Qandahar are included.

This exhibition is a beautiful and informative retelling of the history of Mughal India. To learn more about events and publications associated with this exhibition please view the British Library website here.

%d bloggers like this: