The Maharaja’s Living Room at Manik Bagh Palace, Indore
Vintage gelatin silver print
23 x 28.9 cm
Eckart Muthesius is best known for his visionary architectural and interior oeuvre in Indore, India, the remarkable modern masterpiece of the early 1930s, Manik Bagh, built for the Maharaja of Indore, Yeshwant Rao Holkar Bahadur. He is less known in the world of photography where his avant-garde practice in the late 1920s and 1930s captured images of ‘two’ Indias through a trained modernist lens.
Despite his self-described amateur hand at this craft (with his trusted Leica camera as constant companion), he was certainly influenced by his years studying at the Associated State School for Applied Arts (Vereinigte Staatsschule fur Angewandte Kunst) in Berlin and the London Polytechnic. While the Bauhaus raged, he was already well acquainted with its philosophy, given that his father, Hermann Muthesius, a founder of the Deutscher Werkbund, had already instilled in him the idea of modernism and the future of urban comfort.
Upon the completion of his ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’ Manik Bagh, in Indore, India, he photographed the entire project in great detail. In the photographs of the interiors he highlights the streamlined elegance of his architecture and designs as well as some the greatest modern creators of the time, from Eileen Gray to Le Corbusier and Emile- Jacques Ruhlmann, among others; in these composed photographs we observe his prodigious approach to clean modernist form / lighting and proportion and the most remarkable materials available worthy of a prince.
His images present these spaces as stages for the imagination and contemplation where the future of design aesthetics could be appreciated in the realm of daily life, albeit in a rather spectacular setting.
The Estate of the artist, Germany.
Moderne Maharajah, un mécène des années 1930. Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, 26 September 2019 – 12 January 2020.
Billé, Raphaèle, and Louise Curtis. Moderne Maharajah, un mécène des années 1930. Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, 2019, pp. 102-103.
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