Photos: Paris gets a glimpse of the life of Indore’s Modernist Maharaja

An exhibition titled ‘The Modern Maharajah’ at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris celebrates the glamorous life of Maharaja of Indore and his maharani, Sanyogita Devi, who, in the 1930s and 1940s, built the ‘garden of rubies’ Manik Bagh in Indore, acquired became patrons of important artists and acquired their work. The couple charmed everyone wherever they went. However, the maharaja’s artistic adventures ended with the death of the maharani at the age of 22. The maharaja’s Paris-based son Richard Holkar believes the maharajah's cosmopolitanism may have been a reaction to his father and his grandfather being forced to abdicate by the imperial overlords.

UPDATED ON SEP 27, 2019 10:28 AM IST 8 Photos
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A visitor climbs the stairs as she arrives to view the opening of ‘The Modern Maharajah’ exhibition at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris. The exhibition tells the story of the Maharaja of Indore Yeshwant Rao Holkar II and his wife Sanyogita Devi of Indore who spent much of their time in Europe and the US, becoming the patrons of many artists and designers of their day. (Stephane De Sakutin / AFP)

A visitor climbs the stairs as she arrives to view the opening of ‘The Modern Maharajah’ exhibition at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris. The exhibition tells the story of the Maharaja of Indore Yeshwant Rao Holkar II and his wife Sanyogita Devi of Indore who spent much of their time in Europe and the US, becoming the patrons of many artists and designers of their day. (Stephane De Sakutin / AFP)

UPDATED ON SEP 27, 2019 10:28 AM IST
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A traditional outfit belonging to Yeshwant Rao Holkar II. Consequently, the prince managed to assemble one of the most important private collections of Modernist furniture and decorative arts from 1920’s and 1930’s in the world. Some 500 pieces of from his Manik Bagh Palace in his hometown of Indore, are being exhibited alongside archival materials that document the legacy of the Maharaja and Maharani of Indore. (Stephane De Sakutin / AFP)

A traditional outfit belonging to Yeshwant Rao Holkar II. Consequently, the prince managed to assemble one of the most important private collections of Modernist furniture and decorative arts from 1920’s and 1930’s in the world. Some 500 pieces of from his Manik Bagh Palace in his hometown of Indore, are being exhibited alongside archival materials that document the legacy of the Maharaja and Maharani of Indore. (Stephane De Sakutin / AFP)

UPDATED ON SEP 27, 2019 10:28 AM IST
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Paintings of Yeshwant Rao Holkar II and his wife Sanyogita Devi of Indore at the exhibition. The prince had come to the throne at the age of 17. Despite being bound together in an arranged marriage when she was 10 and he only a few years older, and having one foot in the Raj and age-old Indian princely traditions, the pair were a thoroughly modern couple, said chief curator Olivier Gabet. (Stephane De Sakutin / AFP)

Paintings of Yeshwant Rao Holkar II and his wife Sanyogita Devi of Indore at the exhibition. The prince had come to the throne at the age of 17. Despite being bound together in an arranged marriage when she was 10 and he only a few years older, and having one foot in the Raj and age-old Indian princely traditions, the pair were a thoroughly modern couple, said chief curator Olivier Gabet. (Stephane De Sakutin / AFP)

UPDATED ON SEP 27, 2019 10:28 AM IST
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A carpet by Ivan Da Silva Bruhns (1930s) at the exhibition. With the clouds of World War II darkening over Europe, the pair created a gem of an avant-garde palace on the Malwa Plateau in the heart of the country. An oasis of understated but dazzling modernist luxury, it was furnished with pieces by Eileen Gray, Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret among others, with art by Brancusi. (Stephane De Sakutin / AFP)

A carpet by Ivan Da Silva Bruhns (1930s) at the exhibition. With the clouds of World War II darkening over Europe, the pair created a gem of an avant-garde palace on the Malwa Plateau in the heart of the country. An oasis of understated but dazzling modernist luxury, it was furnished with pieces by Eileen Gray, Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret among others, with art by Brancusi. (Stephane De Sakutin / AFP)

UPDATED ON SEP 27, 2019 10:28 AM IST
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A man looks at a 1933 designed bedroom by German architect Eckart Muthesius, who was commissioned to build the Manik Bagh Palace. It was the first building in the subcontinent to have air conditioning. It also had a ballroom where the couple could do the foxtrot to the jazz-loving maharajah’s collection of 1,00,000 records. (Stephane De Sakutin / AFP)

A man looks at a 1933 designed bedroom by German architect Eckart Muthesius, who was commissioned to build the Manik Bagh Palace. It was the first building in the subcontinent to have air conditioning. It also had a ballroom where the couple could do the foxtrot to the jazz-loving maharajah’s collection of 1,00,000 records. (Stephane De Sakutin / AFP)

UPDATED ON SEP 27, 2019 10:28 AM IST
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A visitor looks at a picture scene during her visit to the exhibition. The maharani shared in these interests. “She was involved in all their projects and was treated as an equal by her husband. In fact, they were quite an exceptional couple,” said Gabet. Man Ray, their guest on the French Riviera, thought the same. He described the maharani as an “exquisite girl in her teens”. (Stephane De Sakutin / AFP)

A visitor looks at a picture scene during her visit to the exhibition. The maharani shared in these interests. “She was involved in all their projects and was treated as an equal by her husband. In fact, they were quite an exceptional couple,” said Gabet. Man Ray, their guest on the French Riviera, thought the same. He described the maharani as an “exquisite girl in her teens”. (Stephane De Sakutin / AFP)

UPDATED ON SEP 27, 2019 10:28 AM IST
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The couple charmed everyone wherever they went, whether filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille and actor Gary Cooper in Hollywood, or Old World royals like themselves. Vogue described the maharajah as like a “character from a Visconti film, the last member of a carefree aristocracy, living its final hours in the lap of idle luxury.” However, the couple did not have long to enjoy their idyll in their modernist home, the Manik Bagh. (Stephane De Sakutin / AFP)

The couple charmed everyone wherever they went, whether filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille and actor Gary Cooper in Hollywood, or Old World royals like themselves. Vogue described the maharajah as like a “character from a Visconti film, the last member of a carefree aristocracy, living its final hours in the lap of idle luxury.” However, the couple did not have long to enjoy their idyll in their modernist home, the Manik Bagh. (Stephane De Sakutin / AFP)

UPDATED ON SEP 27, 2019 10:28 AM IST
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The maharani died at the age of 22 from appendicitis, leaving behind their toddler daughter, Usha, the present maharani. The maharajah’s artistic adventures pretty much ended with her death, said Gabet, “which shows just what an influence she had.” Manik Bagh has now been swallowed up by the expanding city of Indore. The once stately salons of the garden have long since been subdivided into offices for the local excise department. (Stephane De Sakutin / AFP)

The maharani died at the age of 22 from appendicitis, leaving behind their toddler daughter, Usha, the present maharani. The maharajah’s artistic adventures pretty much ended with her death, said Gabet, “which shows just what an influence she had.” Manik Bagh has now been swallowed up by the expanding city of Indore. The once stately salons of the garden have long since been subdivided into offices for the local excise department. (Stephane De Sakutin / AFP)

UPDATED ON SEP 27, 2019 10:28 AM IST
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