Manik Bagh Carpet with Minimalist Design
Attributed to Ivan Da Silva Bruhns.
Handwoven wool on wool warp.
495 x 267 cm.
Manik Bagh Palace, Indore, India.
Private collection, Indore, 1970s.
The present carpet is one of numerous works commissioned by Yeshwant Rao Holkar II, the Maharaja of Indore, for his Modernist palace Manik Bagh, designed by the German architect Eckart Muthesius. The Maharaja, a visionary patron with deep connections with Modern art in Europe, commissioned various pieces from the best artists and designers of the time, including Ivan da Silva Bruhns, one of the top Parisian textile designers, who he chose to design and produce a large group of pictorial rugs to cover the floors of the Indore palace.
The present carpet is an example of a simple and effective composition that signals a high modernism where excessive decorative elements are stripped in favour of purity of form. Two sets of four green stripes run along the length of the carpet, departing from opposite sides of the rug. The dynamism created by these lines that do not reach their end point instils movement to the symmetric composition, evoking a path that is perpetually being traversed. The background of the carpet is a subtle yellow-ochre tone, creating a stark but harmonious contrast with the deep green stripes.
Ivan da Silva Bruhns (1881-1980), who was also a painter, was among the most prolific and creative carpet designers during the early 20th century, particularly in the period between the two world wars. Born of Brazilian parents in Paris, da Silva Bruhns founded his own atelier and showrooms in Paris in 1925 and became the epitome of a sophisticated Art Deco style in the textile arts. Initially inspired by African and Pre-Columbian art, his designs over the years established a close proximity with abstract art, developing a ‘cubist’ phase that turned to increasingly symmetric and purely geometric compositions. With his bold geometric designs, he rapidly became the most visible and sought-after artist in his field, receiving commissions of the highest profile. In addition to their compelling contemporary designs, da Silva Bruhns’s carpets were appreciated for their exceptional quality, with their luxuriantly thick pile made from the finest wool.
The present carpet is closely related to a smaller carpet, designed by Ivan da Silva Bruhns for the Manik Bagh of the Maharaja of Indore, which at a later stage belonged to the collection of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé. Another carpet designed by da Silva Bruhns for the Maharaja, with a similar yellow-ochre colour as background, was part of the Marsha Miro Collection.
Interestingly, compared to many of da Silva’s rugs, our carpet does not carry the monogram of the designers workshop ‘MS’ which stood for ‘Manufacture de Savigny’. This implies that the rug, as well as other known examples without the monogram, may well have been woven elsewhere. This may have happened because the order for the Maharaja’s palace was such a large one, that da Silva’s own workshop did not have room to weave all of the carpets on site, which often happened if workshops were overbooked. On the other hand, a number of carpets in the original sale of Manik Bagh’s furnishings in Monte Carlo in 1980 were also unsigned, similarly to the present carpet.