"The design was sent to Christofle in Paris calling for a bed of "dark wood decorated with applied sterling with gilded parts, monograms and arms, ornamented with four life-size bronze figures (of naked females) painted in flesh colour with natural hair, movable eyes and arms, holding fans and horse tails".
Some 290kg of silver was needed to decorate the bed. The four naked figures were European, representing women of France, Spain, Italy and Greece, each with a different skin-tone and hair colour. Through ingenious mechanics linked to the mattress, the Nawab was able to set the figures in motion so that they fanned him while winking at him, against a 30-minute cycle of music from Gounod's Faust generated by a music box built into the bed." (Independent)
Adding, as it were, a few thoughts of mine own, this bed is a wondrous contrivance, a thing that might have in earlier times, been entrusted to Michelangelo... A blend of outrageous wealth and questionable taste.
Now here's my question. The young Nawab had unimagineably large heaps of wealth, the commission, by the way, at the time was top-secret, nobody in the firm was to know who it was they were making this for.
At twenty years old, a young Indian aristocrat, lord of all he surveyed, bought himself this. Which looks to me like a single bed, a bed for one only. Where the occupant would listen to music and gaze up at his obediently fanning four nubile western women, paler skinned and differently featured to the women of his home country. Whilst music played.
Well no. I shy away from the question...
The lad, surely, might have found real women?
Let me quote e.e.cummings.
a pretty girl who naked is is worth a million statues