The Museum of Decorative Arts honors the extraordinary figure of the Maharajah of Indore who gave free rein to his artistic and decorative avant-garde by creating a unique modern world in India.

Visionary personality of the European cultural milieu of the 20s and 30s, he was the sponsor of the very first modernist construction of his country: the palace of Manik Bagh (1930-1933), testimony of the effervescence of the artistic scene of the time

The exhibition highlights the world of this mythical home evoking the exchanges between Europe and India through the singular and fascinating personality of a young prince and his wife. Presented in the Nave of the museum, this prestigious heritage brings together more than 500 pieces gathered for the first time. It reveals the iconic creations of Louis Sognot and Charlotte Alix, Jean Puiforcat, Eileen Gray or Le Corbusier.

During the 1920s, Yeshwant Rao Holkar II (1908-1961), better known as the Maharajah of Indore, was sent to Oxford at a very young age in England. A French tutor, Dr. Marcel Hardy, sharpens his curiosity by introducing him into the European cultural milieu. Under the thumb of his mentor, he met two personalities who will be decisive in his approach: the Berlin architect Eckart Muthesius, close to the avant-garde, and Henri-Pierre Roché, artistic advisor and writer. Stays in England, Germany and France in particular, where he frequents various exhibitions, exhibitions and artists’ studios, give birth to a real interest in modern art.

In 1929, shortly after his meeting with fashion designer and collector Jacques Doucet and the visit of his studio, he decided to erect a palace in his native India, where luxury, comfort and modernity would mix. The Maharajah entrusts Eckart Muthesius with the realization of this project: to transform the foundations of a pre-existing building into a new private residence for the maharani Sanyogita Devi and himself.

Arranged according to their daily needs, the palace is provided with a decoration and a furniture glorifying the innovative materials for the time, like the metal, the synthetic leather or the glass, with a predominance granted to the color declining in each of the living spaces. In order to create these interiors, nearly 20 carefully selected designers are in demand, whose achievements have become iconic works of this period.

Among the most emblematic, the Transat armchair by Eileen Gray, the pair of red synthetic leather armchairs with integrated lamps by Eckart Muthesius, the spectacular metal and glass beds of Sognot and Alix, designed for the respective rooms of the royal couple, or Ivan Da Silva Bruhns’ carpets, which occupy the palace grounds like vast, abstract, colorful paintings.

After studying the spirit of Bauhaus in 2016 and the work of Gio Ponti, archi-designer in 2018, the Musée des Arts Décoratif, whose collections Art Deco and Modernist are among the most beautiful in the world, continues its exploration of the years 1920-1930 by proposing a new reading of the history of European modernity thanks to the eyes of an immense amateur of the arts.

September 26, 2019 – January 20, 2020


107-111 rue de Rivoli 75001 Paris