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The Jodhpur Auction The Jodhpur Auction ETIENNE DRIAN (1890 - 1965)
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Drian painted this eight-panel verre eglomisé (reverse gilded glass to mirror finish) metal screen commemorating, or in a way celebrating the arrival of the first black Jazz band to perform in Paris. Jazz was then distinctly identified as novel and exclusively American music. The band’s arrival in Paris heralded the spread and popularity of Jazz in Europe, resulting in an increasing number of Jazz aficionados. Drian’s reverse painted eight-panel folding screen shows five black musicians playing in great gusto and demonstrates the popularity of Jazz at the time. What is very interesting is that Drian depicts real-life musicians and perhaps the original band members who initiated Parisians to Jazz on their home grounds.
It is evident that Drian referred to photographic portraits of the Jazz musicians for this screen. Berenice Abbott (1898 -1991), a student of the famed photographer Man Ray made a name for herself photographing leadings artists, painters, sculptors and musicians. It appears that Drian collected and then composited the Jazz musicians from available portraits for this screen. The drummer Buddy Gilmore swinging at the drums is identified from Abbott’s portrait of the musician. Buddy Gilmore had sailed on the SS Pocahontas, touching France at the coastal town of Brest. Two probable members of his band were Frank De Bronte and Ward “Trombone” Andrews.
Over the years the screen has attracted much attention from ardent jazz aficionados and admirers and numerous photographs of the architect, palace and the young Maharaja’s family were published in the international press and also in journals such as The Fortune, The Illustrated Times of India and many others.
Interestingly, a highly restored version of the screen painted similarly (the pianos and finer details are different in both versions) by Drian has changed many hands in the past and is currently in a private New York collection. However, it notably lacks the zest, vigour and finesse of the screen, originally belonging to the Maharaja, that we are privileged to present here.
Originally acquired by Maharaja Yeshwant Rao Holkar II of Indore, from an exhibition in France in 1931, this screen was inherited by his daughter, the present Maharani of Indore, Usha Devi, who presented it to the current owner in 1977
Etienne Adrien, a French visual artist was born in 1890 in Bugneville, France. Also known as Adrien Drian, he was a painter, draughtsman, master etcher and illustrator. He emerged as one of the leading fashion illustrators of the dress reform era. The stylized elongated forms of his elegant female figures perfectly exemplified the refined and sophisticated fashions of the times, especially in Paris, and could be found in magazines such as La Gazette du Bon Temps, Fe’mina, L’Ilustration and Flirt amongst others. Harper’s Bazaar was also proud to present him to its readers as a frequent illustrator of short stories, presenting intimate glimpses of Parisian life. In the 1920s and 30s he expanded his repertoire to include portraiture, murals and decorative arts that brought him further acclaim.
Maharaja Yeshwant Rao Holkar II & Manik Bagh Palace, Indore:
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