Indian Antiques and Fine Art Guide

Over the last few years, the prices of Chinese antiques have soared significantly higher over the initial estimates. Indian antiques are expected to follow, therefore now is the perfect time to invest in beautiful pieces.

The antiques listed below (bar Pushkin antiques) are in upcoming auctions we’re hosting on ukauctioneers: European & Asia Works of Art Auction, and Antiques & Fine Art with Asian Art & Musical Instruments.

The 19th century is a great benchmark to narrow down the immense range of Indian antiques on the market. As they regularly appear at auction, it makes them easy to find and accessible when determining the condition and value.

Indian Silver

Indian silver became extremely popular during the second half of the 19th Century, mostly due to the British colonies. Each Indian region had its own distinct style. Most pieces do not contain hallmarks, so as a result it’s a good idea to identify them by design. One of the most noteworthy designs is Cutch (or Kutch), distinguished by finely chased scrolling foliage with flowers, often accompanied by hunting scenes in relief. One of the most famous Indian silversmiths was Oomersi Mawji, easily recognisable by the signatures “O.M.” and “O.M BHUJI”. Usually inspired by Victorian silverware, the most common items include salvers, jugs and cups.

Antiques Oomersi Mawji solid silver salver tray c.1880

Oomersi Mawji solid silver salver tray c.1880 Image credit: Pushkin Antiques

Paintings

Paintings are often group lots in auction. What to look for is true of any antique paintings: vibrancy, age, provenance, any damage or later alteration. Some examples of Indian paintings become repainted or the identity of sitters in portraits become sadly lost, so it’s a good idea to order a condition report from the auction house or seller before buying. Always check the reverse of the painting. While the inscriptions may be difficult to read (often in Sanskrit or a local dialect), they provide the provenance, although some are added long after the painting has been produced.

Four antique illustrations of Indian couples, , comprising a barber and his wife, a painter and his wife and two priests with their wives, mounted separately

Gouache on paper, comprising a barber and his wife, a painter and his wife and two priests with their wives, mounted separately

an antique loose manuscript folio from India

An antique loose manuscript folio from India

Antique Brass

Antique brass usually features religious idols or the statuettes of animals, but it should be noted that there are many mass-produced examples on the market. Quite often they are in group lots, similar in style but not always originating from the same place.

A miscellaneous antique collection of Indian and South-East Asian metalwork

A miscellaneous collection of Indian and South-East Asian metalwork, mostly 19th century

An antique gilt brass incense burner, england, late 19th century

A gilt brass incense burner, in the style of Bhuj silver, England, late 19th century

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figures

Indian figures and sculpture usually depict deities in beautiful detail. Sometimes fragments of stone are taken from larger pieces and mounted, or full figures are often carved from ivory or clay.

Eleven antique clay figures of Indian characters, 19th Century, Indian antiques

Eleven large clay figures of Indian characters, probably Krishnanagar, Bengal, India, 19th Century

19th century antique Indian carved ivory figure group, an elephant carrying a Howdah, with two nobles surrounded by four guards on a rectangular base, and a figure of a Goddess

A 19th Century Indian carved ivory figure group of an elephant carrying a Howdah with two nobles surrounded by four guards, and a figure of a Goddess

An Indian antique fragmentary roundel depicting a Gandharva, central India, probably Madhya Pradesh, circa 11th Century

A fragmentary roundel depicting a Gandharva, central India, probably Madhya Pradesh, circa 11th Century

 

You can find more lots on our website

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