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Maharajas and Queens

Paul F. Walter championed a fascination with India and a devotion to The British Royal Family, particularly Queen Victoria and her remarkable reign, through myriad collecting pursuits. Queen Victoria’s love of India, and her friendships with Maharaja Duleep Singh and Abdul Karim, helped to integrate the exotic foreign culture of Colonial India with British life. In two sales on November 11th and 15th, Stair Galleries is fortunate to offer a selection of artworks and objects from Mr. Walter’s collection which provide insight into this twinned interest and collecting passion.

In 1877 Queen Victoria was proclaimed ‘Empress of India’ in effort to further link the monarchy with the Empire and reinforce India’s ties to Britain. Celebrations were held in India known as the Delhi Durbar January 1, 1877 to proclaim her new title (see lot 1061). Queen Victoria and Prince Albert redefined what it meant to be a royal by creating a more visible and accessible monarchy through donations to charities and museums, civic visits to industrial towns as well as attending military reviews and introducing the Victoria Cross (an award based on merit not on rank). A Queen ahead of her time, she also began the tradition of the public sale of royal photographs, encouraging the people of Britain to emulate the fashion and style of the Queen and Prince Consort.

Mr. Walter collected multiple Parian busts of the venerated Queen Victoria (see lot 932), the busts lead a section of royal memorabilia on offer during the sale, followed by two unique scrapbook albums (lot 945) that further illustrate the public affection for the monarchy and provide a unique snapshot into British aristocracy of the early 20th Century. The memorabilia also features an Invitation to the Queen’s Jubilee Thanksgiving Service (lot 934), a Coin and Pendant Commemorating the British Royals in India (lot 941), and a Coronation Jug for Edward VII and Queen Alexandra (see lot 939). A highlight in his collection is a photograph of the Durbar room (see lot 955), as the Queen’s love affair with India continued she added the Durbar Room to her favorite palace Osbourne House, and is considered a pinnacle of Indian architectural design in Britain. Further demonstration of English decorative arts incorporating aspects of exotic taste are the transfer printed wares. The English everyday ceramics portray scenes of India often depicting palaces, elephants and tigers (see lot 480). Schools were established in Great Britain during this time for artists to learn Indian styles, creating a direct impact on visual culture and dovetailed with the Aesthetic Movement. Evidence of this training can be seen in designers such as Christopher Dresser (see lot 681) and furniture by Gillow & Co. (see lot 697), these are striking examples of ornate and flamboyant designs juxtaposed on traditional forms.

At Mr. Walter’s former country house on Long Island, his unbridled imagination and penchant for themed collections were displayed in full force. Invited guests were directed to sleep in individual guest rooms decorated with unique and memorable flair. He referred to them by country — one room evoked Japan, another recalled Egypt, a third his beloved India. The principal guest room, replete with images, busts and engravings of Queen Victoria alongside commemorative porcelain and glass relics of her Jubilee was bedecked with a comfort worthy of any visiting maharaja. Paul Walter fittingly named that suite of rooms, “Balmoral.”

Top left: Lot 1061, COLLECTION OF POSTCARDS RELATING TO THE CORONATION DURBAR AT DELHI
Approximately 230 in a binder. 12 x 11 3/4 x 2 1/2 in.

Top right: Lot 932, COPLELAND PARIAN BUST OF QUEEN VICTORIA. Impressed marks. 14 x 9 1/2 x 6 in.

Above left: Lot 681, CHRISTOPHER DRESSER FOR MINTON TURQUOISE-GLAZED POTTERY SQUARE-FORM ‘PERSIANWARE’ VASE Impressed marks and number ‘1544’. 9 1/2 x 4 in.

Above right: Lot 939, ENGLISH PORCELAIN CORONATION JUG FOR EDWARD VII AND QUEEN ALEXANDRA, 1902 7 3/4 x 6 x 5 in. .

Lot 480, ENGLISH TRANSFER-PRINTED POTTERY TEAPOT AND COVER AND A STAND, WITH INDIAN VIEWS
Marked ‘Regt shape 28170 and 28172, rd. no. 285771’. 6 1/2 x 9 in., 10 in.

At left: Lot 696, AESTHETIC MOVEMENT BURL WALNUT AND EBONIZED SIDE CHAIR, 32 1/2 x 16 x 16 1/2 in, 17 1/2 in. (height of seat).

Stair Galleries invites you to visit the exhibition of these great works, the live sale on view now through November 11th and the online sale through November 15th.

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