Bombay (Mumbai), India
iron, wood, silver, gilded silver, enamel, glass, silk
height 208 cm, length 470 cm, width 175 cm
This extraordinary silver carriage, a landau by design, was commissioned by the Maharaja of Bhavnagar in 1915. It dates from a time when the lifestyle of the Indian Maharajas truly epitomised luxury, and they delighted in the display of their wealth.
One of the finest gold and silver landaus to be seen in the 1911 Darbar was made for the Maharaja of Nawanagar by an Indian entrepreneur, Pestonji Press, at his Fort Coach Factory in Bombay. Colonel H.H. Maharaja Raol Sir Bhavsinhji II Takhatsinhji, KCSI, who commissioned the landau shown here, was born in 1875 to the first of his father’s six wives. He succeeded his father, a great benefactor, in 1896 and true to the tradition of this ruling family, was a distinguished scholar and an enlightened man. Inspired perhaps by what he had seen at the 1911 Darbar, the Maharaja turned to the Fort Coach Factory of Bombay for his new carriage rather than one of the many European makers that had long been established in Indian cities. This splendid landau remained with the Maharaja’s family until 1968, appearing on festival days and at family weddings.