Anglo-Indian Export | Antique & Art Exchange

Anglo-Indian Export

There is a very interesting group of furniture made throughout Asia and the Middle East that was exported westward starting in the 1700s. The Asian objects are broadly described as “Anglo-Indian,” and incorporate English style with Asian decoration. Some of the most interesting styles of furniture emerge from a collision in cultures. In the Anglo-Indian aesthetic it is not unusual to find a snake or some monster incorporated into a leg or column. This furniture is usually highly carved. It is worth noting that some of the earliest examples found in the West were often credited to the Elizabethan period when highly carved dark surfaces were common. These pieces are generally some type of ebony, rosewood or mahogany. In the Middle East and in most of Northern Africa a religious prohibition against representational art influenced craftsmen to develop smaller pieces of furniture with elaborate parquetry, or geometric inlays of wood and other ornamental materials. These pieces share strong similarities with Moorish designs. Occasionally we will see case pieces or seating representative of this style of furniture, but mostly we encounter small wonderful side tables with rich mixed inlays. Often these tables are octagonal and, I believe, it is still possible to buy modern examples of these pieces – although a qualitative difference is easily spotted. Some of the most valuable and rare furniture is English trying to be French or American trying to be English.


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