Pair of silver thrones from India go on view at the Nelson-Atkins

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Pair of silver thrones from India go on view at the Nelson-Atkins
Royal Throne, 1911. Molded and carved silver sheet, wrapped around a wood core, with silk velvet, brocaded silk and horse or ox tail. 59 1/16 x 31 1/2 x 35 7/16 inches (150 x 80 x 90 cm). Purchase: William Rockhill Nelson Trust through the George H. and Elizabeth O. Davis Fund. 2013.10.2.1

KANSAS CITY, MO.- A pair of ornate silver thrones with an intriguing history have ben revealed at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City. Silver Splendor: Conserving the Royal Thrones of Dungarpur, India presents the dazzling royal assemblage following a multi-year conservation effort to bring them to their original glory, a process that is documented for visitors with a video in the exhibition.

“These magnificent thrones demonstrate the power and grandeur of India’s historical rulers,” said Julián Zugazagoitia, Menefee D. and Mary Louise Blackwell CEO & Director of the Nelson-Atkins. “Yet along with tradition, we also see change. Created by an Indian king during the British Colonial era in India, the thrones combine both European and Indian design and imagery.”

In 1911, King George V was crowned Emperor of India in a lavish ceremony in Delhi. Also in 1911, this pair of silver thrones was commissioned for the ruler of Dungarpur, a small kingdom in the western Indian state of Rajasthan. Because the thrones were commissioned the same year as the coronation, it is believed they were made in time to receive touring dignitaries at court during the 1911 celebrations.

“While visitors will be dazzled by the materials and the wonderful workmanship of the silver, I encourage everyone to look closely at the decoration. said Kimberly Masteller, Jean McCray Beals Curator of South and Southeast Asian Art. “The imposing lions are signs of kingship and the Hindu deities depicted on the backrest are associated with the Dungarpur kingdom and royal lineage. The Dungarpur thrones and their regalia have many stories to tell. They reveal complex histories of cultural exchange and the representation of political power.”

A former Dungarpur king brought the thrones to Europe in 1969 and the Nelson-Atkins acquired them in 2013. Since then, the museum conservators painstakingly cleaned the silver and overlaid the worn velvet of the thrones and footstools with new, hand-dyed fabric. With the assistance of local and international partners, including Lesage Intérieurs in Paris, a reproduction of the assemblage’s chhatri, a large, embroidered parasol, was also completed using a combination of advanced technologies and traditional Indian materials and techniques. A selection of Indian paintings and decorative arts workshop drawings accompany the thrones to explore the influence of European aesthetics in Indian furniture design.

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