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Portrait of Maharaja Ranjit Singh
Place of Origin: India or Pakistan
Date: approx. 1800-1900
Materials: Opaque watercolors and gold on paper
Style or Ware: Company, Company school
Dimensions: H. 11 in x W. 7 3/4 in, H. 27.9 cm x W. 19.7 cm
Credit Line: Gift of the Kapany Collection
Department: South Asian Art
Collection: Painting
Object Number: 1998.96
On Display: Yes
Location: Tateuchi Thematic Gallery
Culture: Sikh

Description

Label:

This portrait of Ranjit Singh, seated amid cushions and holding a sword, is especially intriguing for its depiction of the king in his youth. The many European accounts of Ranjit Singh tended to praise his valor and military success, while also emphasizing his advanced age, small stature, and physical unattractiveness. It is likely that this Western-style painting, showing a physically vigorous young man, was inspired by Ranjit Singh’s heroic reputation rather than by an interest in producing a lifelike representation. The threequarter view of his face shows a damaged right eye, when in reality his left eye was disfigured from smallpox. This further suggests that the image was not produced from direct observation of the subject.

The painting was made in a style known as Company School (after the British East India Company), a semi-Western style that flourished during the British colonial period and was intended to appeal to European patrons.


More Information

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

This portrait of Ranjit Singh, seated amid cushions and holding a sword, is especially intriguing for its depiction of the king in his youth. The many European accounts of Ranjit Singh tended to praise his valor and military success, while also emphasizing his advanced age, small stature, and physical unattractiveness. It is likely that this Western-style painting, showing a physically vigorous young man, was inspired by Ranjit Singh’s heroic reputation rather than by an interest in producing a lifelike representation. The threequarter view of his face shows a damaged right eye, when in reality his left eye was disfigured from smallpox. This further suggests that the image was not produced from direct observation of the subject.

The painting was made in a style known as Company School (after the British East India Company), a semi-Western style that flourished during the British colonial period and was intended to appeal to European patrons.


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