19th - 20th Century
Waring & Gillow
Formed by the merger of two independent luxury furniture and furnishing companies of England in 1906, Waring & Gillow was one of the top names in the field globally for a good part of the early twentieth century. Its reputation was built upon the exquisite designing and decoration of the interiors of the London and country homes of the English aristocracy that it provided, and spread to all corners of Britain’s colonial empire across the world; soon, the company was the preferred choice amongst Indian royalty for doing the interiors of their palaces and other buildings.
The luxury liners—through which the empire’s rulers, its officers, and the rest of Great Britain discovered the conquered lands—were important clients for Waring & Gillow. A prominent name among these was the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co.—familiarly known as P&O—that was established in London in 1835 and inaugurated its Indian mail service in 1842.
As furnishers of P&O ships, Waring & Gillow prepared drawings, rendered delicately and realistically, that were intended for the approval of the management as well as for record, and to guide the placement of the carpets, lights and furniture once the walls and ceiling had been completed.
Today, these drawings are a reminder of times when attention to detail and a hedonism marked the interiors of clubs, lounges and homes of the aristocracy as also their means of transport to far-away lands—the ships—which had exquisitely decorated ceilings, stuffed sofas, ornate chairs, large, gilded windows with their drapes opening out to views over the sea.
‘These first journeys are now recognized as the origins of what we regard as a cruise today, though the ships were still used primarily as a means of transport rather than a ‘pleasure cruise’’— Adam Coulter
‘Home is a Place: Interiority in Indian Art’
DAG, New Delhi, 2021