Armande Vallee, Polish artist and interior decorator who painted the exquisite frescoes in Indrajit-Padmini Mahal (Vadia Palace), Rajpipla

Armande Vallee, Polish artist and interior decorator who painted the exquisite frescoes in Indrajit-Padmini Mahal (Vadia Palace), Rajpipla

Indrajit-Padmini Mahal, also known as Vadia Palace, is a marvel of architecture and one of the iconic palaces of India. Located in the erstwhile royal town of Rajpipla, now the headquarters of Narmada district, Indrajit-Padmini Mahal was dubbed as ‘The Taj of Gujarat’ in its heyday in the 1940s. 

The Palace was built by Maharaja Vijaysinhji, the last ruler of Rajpipla State between the years 1934 and 1939. It was designed predominantly in Indo-Saracenic style with Art Deco interiors, using the finest Italian marble and Burma teak.

The various rooms of the Palace are adorned with wall and ceiling frescoes by Polish artist and interior decorator Armande Herman Vallee Wolinski (Armande Vallee), whose depiction of even Indian devotional and local themes is flawless. Some of the paintings are bright, while others are subtle and diffused.

Every room has its own unique character. The reception behind the portico is painted with floral and fauna subjects. The drawing room has concealed lighting in the ceiling and beautiful paintings from Lord Krishna’s life. The dining room has paintings of wildlife, while the bar has murals of drunk monkeys. The ballroom has Burma teak flooring, and the sitting room is done up in frescoes of dancing girls. The puja or prayer room has a series of wall and ceiling murals.

This was probably Armande Vallee’s last major work as an artist.

Having carried out his exquisite paintings in the Palace in 1938-39, Armande Vallee was looking forward to his wedding. In his letter dated 24th February 1940 to fiancée Vera Myra Gordon, he wrote about her boarding a train at Bombay on 14th March. She was to alight from the train at Surat at 2:30 on the morning of 15th March, reaching Rajpipla at 9 AM. They were to get married the same day.

But fate willed otherwise. Apparently, Vera could not board the train. They were eventually married at Purandhar, near Poona, on 15th September 1942. Two daughters were born of this wedlock. Armande Vallee passed away at Bombay in 1948. Vera sailed for England in 1963, settled in Sussex, and died there later. The breathtaking frescoes painted by Armande Vallee live on in Indrajit-Padmini Mahal as a testament of his place as an extraordinary artist and interior decorator of his time.

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