Friday, April 20, 2007

Durbar Chairs Return to Osborne House

(Via 24 Hour Museum):

Four of the original Durbar chairs made for Queen Victoria in 1890-91 have been restored to their rightful place in Osborne House, Isle of Wight, after 100 years in private hands.

English Heritage helped raise £45,000 to buy the chairs after being tipped off when they appeared in a Midlands sale room. They join five other chairs from the original set of 36, bringing the total at Osborne House to nine.

“The chairs were disposed of shortly after Queen Victoria’s death when they were presumably thought to be of little interest," said Michael Hunter, English Heritage curator at Osborne House. "However, the chance for us to acquire them and bring them back home to Osborne after nearly 100 years is very exciting.”

The magnificent walnut and leather chairs were created by Bhai Ram Singh to complement the Indian-style Durbar Room (shown here), which was commissioned by Queen Victoria in 1890 to celebrate her role as Empress of India. The room, which was used originally as a banqueting hall, was designed by Singh and John Lockwood Kipling, father of Rudyard Kipling. Its walls are decorated with symbols of India, including Ganesh, the elephant god of good fortune; the deeply coffered ceiling is made of a fibrous plaster.

A photograph of the Durbar Room at Osborne House
taken in the 1890s and showing the Durbar chairs in place.

The four Durbar chairs secured by
English Heritage for Osborne House.

The intricately carved chairs have an
elaborate bird motif that is repeated on panels
in the door and door surrounds in the Durbar Room.


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