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The Late Maharaja Runjeet Singh
Portraits of The Princes and People of India
Date: 1844
Object Name: Chromolithograph
Materials: Hand-painted chromolithograph on paper
Dimensions: H. 24 in x W. 17 1/2 in, H. 61 cm x W. 44.4 cm
Credit Line: Gift of the Kapany Collection
Department: South Asian Art
Collection: Prints And Drawings
Object Number: 1998.63.13
On Display: No
Culture: Sikh

Description

Label:

Emily Eden lived in India between 1836 and 1842, while her brother, Lord Auckland, served as governor-general, and she documented her Indian experiences both in writing and painting. Shortly after her return to England, a portfolio of prints based on her drawings was published under the title Portraits of the Princes and Peoples of India.

Eden met Maharaja Ranjit Singh near the end of his life, noting in a journal entry:

Thursday, November 29, 1838: “Runjeet [sic] had no jewels on whatever, nothing but the commonest red silk dress. He had two stockings on at first, which was considered an unusual circumstance; but he very soon contrived to slip one off, that he might sit with one foot in his hand comfortably.”

Like other observers of the court, Eden noted the maharaja’s simplicity of attire and his modest way of life, all the more remarkable in the midst of the splendid and magnificent attire of his family members, courtiers, and other imperial figures.


More Information

Inscriptions: Print Sellers by Special Appointment to Her Majesty and H.R.H. the Duchess of Kent
Exhibition History: "The Arts of the Sikh Kingdoms", Royal Ontario Museum, 5/25/2000 - 8/20/2000

"Saints and Kings: Arts, Culture, and Legacy of the Sikhs", Asian Art Museum, 3/10/2017 - 6/18/2017
Additional Label:

This famous portrait depicts Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1780–1839), founder of the first unified Sikh kingdom, in the year before his death. The artist, Emily Eden, lived in India between 1836 and 1842, when her brother, Lord Auckland, served as governor-general. Shortly after her return to England, a portfolio of prints based upon her drawings— from which this image comes—was published under the title Portraits of the Princes and People of India.

Ranjit Singh, in the twilight of his years, is immortalized in this image, which reflects Eden's recollection of their meeting:

"At the time at which this likeness was taken, he was partially paralyzed, and he said but few words to his attendants; guiding the order of his Durbar or Court, and even the movements of his troops, mainly by signs made with his forefinger, the motions of which were watched by a number of his confidential personal servants, who remained always near him. He had a curious and constant trick, while sitting and engaged in conversation, of raising one of his legs under him on the chair… and then pulling off the stocking from that foot. He had the use of only one eye, which age, and a hard life of exposure and excesses, had dimmed at the period now spoken of, but it still retained the traces of the vigour and penetration for which he was remarkable."


Label:

Emily Eden lived in India between 1836 and 1842, while her brother, Lord Auckland, served as governor-general, and she documented her Indian experiences both in writing and painting. Shortly after her return to England, a portfolio of prints based on her drawings was published under the title Portraits of the Princes and Peoples of India.

Eden met Maharaja Ranjit Singh near the end of his life, noting in a journal entry:

Thursday, November 29, 1838: “Runjeet [sic] had no jewels on whatever, nothing but the commonest red silk dress. He had two stockings on at first, which was considered an unusual circumstance; but he very soon contrived to slip one off, that he might sit with one foot in his hand comfortably.”

Like other observers of the court, Eden noted the maharaja’s simplicity of attire and his modest way of life, all the more remarkable in the midst of the splendid and magnificent attire of his family members, courtiers, and other imperial figures.


Inscriptions: Print Sellers by Special Appointment to Her Majesty and H.R.H. the Duchess of Kent
Exhibition History: "The Arts of the Sikh Kingdoms", Royal Ontario Museum, 5/25/2000 - 8/20/2000

"Saints and Kings: Arts, Culture, and Legacy of the Sikhs", Asian Art Museum, 3/10/2017 - 6/18/2017
Expanded Label:

This famous portrait depicts Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1780–1839), founder of the first unified Sikh kingdom, in the year before his death. The artist, Emily Eden, lived in India between 1836 and 1842, when her brother, Lord Auckland, served as governor-general. Shortly after her return to England, a portfolio of prints based upon her drawings— from which this image comes—was published under the title Portraits of the Princes and People of India.

Ranjit Singh, in the twilight of his years, is immortalized in this image, which reflects Eden's recollection of their meeting:

"At the time at which this likeness was taken, he was partially paralyzed, and he said but few words to his attendants; guiding the order of his Durbar or Court, and even the movements of his troops, mainly by signs made with his forefinger, the motions of which were watched by a number of his confidential personal servants, who remained always near him. He had a curious and constant trick, while sitting and engaged in conversation, of raising one of his legs under him on the chair… and then pulling off the stocking from that foot. He had the use of only one eye, which age, and a hard life of exposure and excesses, had dimmed at the period now spoken of, but it still retained the traces of the vigour and penetration for which he was remarkable."