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7 must-see pieces from the V&A's Al Thani collection exhibition
Whether it's displaying fine art or a garage full of the best water toys, many superyachts are also floating homes to their owner's personally curated collections. Few, however, have collections quite like the Al Thani family.
The ruling house of Qatar, this sprawling family counts among its members Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani owner of Al Mirqab, Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani owner of Katara and Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalifa Al Thani owner of Stargate.
As this list of some of the largest superyachts in the world may suggest, the Al Thani family is not new to a little curation and over the generations has amassed an unrivalled collection of priceless art and objects of Indian descent.
Ceremonial sword with jewelled gold hilt, Hyderabad, South India ca. 1880 – 1900. Courtesy The Al Thani Collection © Servette Overseas Limited, 2014/Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd
Silk sword sash
This autumn the V&A will display key pieces from the Al Thani family private collection as part of its India Festival. So extensive is the collection that the exhibition will provide a comprehensive span of Indian design ranging from Mughal jades and a rare jewelled gold finial from the throne of Tipu Sultan to contemporary pieces by fine jewellers including JAR and Bhagat.
Silk sword sash with jewelled gold fittings, India ca. 1900. Courtesy The Al Thani Collection © Servette Overseas Limited, 2014/Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd
Spinels on a pearl necklace
The exhibition itself is the brainchild of HH Sheikh Hamad bin Abdullah Al Thani, one the family's most avid curators who, fittingly, was inspired to increase the private collection after visiting the V&A's Maharaja exhibition in 2009.
Spinels on a necklace of cultured pearls with dyed green beryl bead, Mughal Empire. The Al Thani Collection © Servette Overseas Limited, 2014/Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd
Diamond pendant brooch
Unsurprisingly the V&A is not the first museum wishing to display the pieces. Last year the collection received its first major exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art in New York where it garnered rave reviews. Bringing these objects to London is a move motivated by Sheikh Hamad's desire to offer access to and educate as many people as possible about these wonderful pieces.
Pendant brooch set with diamonds and rubies by Bhagat, Mumbai, India, 2011. Courtesy The Al Thani Collection © Servette Overseas Limited, 2014/Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd
Emerald, sapphire and diamond brooch
Being a family of international influence the Al Thani's have not confined themselves to collecting purely pieces of Indian descent, however. Among the collection is a selection of stunning jewels and ornaments from renowned names, such as Cartier, which document the huge influence Indian design has had on fashion, interior design and style over the past two centuries.
Brooch set with emeralds, sapphires and diamonds by Cartier, Paris, France, 1922. Courtesy The Al Thani Collection © Servette Overseas Limited, 2014/Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd
Diamond turban jewel
Alongside the exhibition the V&A will host a series of workshops and events to help visitors make the most of this magnificent collection. Guided tours will take place every Thursday until January while special talks and lectures will be given on a host of topics from speakers including Michael Palin, photographer and writer James Wellings and artist Subodh Gupta.
Diamond turban jewel made for the Maharaja of Nawanagar, India, 1907; remodelled in 1935. Courtesy The Al Thani Collection © Servette Overseas Limited, 2014/Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd
The exhibition will also be accompanied by a beautifully shot coffee table book exploring 100 objects from the Al Thani family collection in further detail. Other exhibitions running as part of the India Festival include The Fabric of India, Musical Wonders of India and Captain Linnaeus Tripe: Photographer of India and Burma, 1852-1860.
Bejewelled Treasures: The Al Thani Collection runs from 21 November 2015 - 28 March 2016 at the V&A Museum, London. Visit vam.ac.uk for tickets and information.
Gold finial from Tipu Sultan’s throne, Mysore, South India, 1790 – 1800. Courtesy The Al Thani Collection © Servette Overseas Limited, 2014/Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd