Maharajas! The word maharaja, literally ‘great king’, conjures up a vision of splendor and magnificence. These princely rulers of India played an important role within a social and historical context and were patrons of the arts, both in India and Europe. That resulted in magnificent objects symbolic of royal status, power and identity.
According to an account by Alain Boucheron on his family business in the book “The Master Jewelers” that was cited in the Times:
"The flamboyant Maharaja... arrived at Boucheron's in 1927 accompanied by a retinue of 40 servants all wearing pink turbans, his 20 favorite dancing girls and, most important of all, six caskets filled with 7571 diamonds, 1432 emeralds, sapphires, rubies and pearls of incomparable beauty.”
Here's a look at the opulent world of the Maharajas and their extraordinarily rich culture thought their jewels
Bernard Boutet de Monvel, The Maharadjah (Maharaja) of Indore, Oil on canvas, 1933. 85 x 85 cm, Estimate : 300.000 – 500.000 € and sold in 2016 for €2,499,000. Image: Sotheby’s. Boutet de Monvel’s depiction of the Oxford-educated Maharajah of Indore, whose likeness was destined for the walls of Manik Bagh, his Indian palace. In this six-foot, stunningly ethereal composition from 1933, the young man, dressed in traditional costume, sits on a white throne against a pale background, the whole brought to vivid life by shots of shimmering colour: a garnet-hued turban on his head, two magnificent 47-carat diamonds (the Pears of Indore) around his neck, along with a luxurious fabric and a striped sabre scabbard at his feet.
The Maharaja of Alwar. (1882-1937). Royal India.
The Maharani of Baroda at a party given at Vagenende Restaurant in Paris in June 1966, wearing a grey pearl and diamond bracelet by Cartier. Photo © AGIP / Bridgeman Images Via Christie’s
Drawing of the ceremonial necklace for the Maharajah of Nawanagar, 1931, London Cartier Archives. Jacques Cartier presented the Maharaja with a dazzling project. Sadly, the Maharaja of Nawanagar had little time to wear the “finest cascade of coloured diamonds in the World”. He died in 1933, two years after the necklace was delivered. Image: Cartier Archives