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Indian School, 19th century

Maharajah Ranjit Singh

RCIN 452414

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This equestrian portrait was the first South Asian painting presented to Queen Victoria. It depicts Maharaja Ranjit Singh (r. 1801–39), the founder of the Sikh Empire of the Punjab. He revived the splendour of the Mughal court at Lahore and projected himself as heir to the great Mughal emperors of the past. The artist Imam Bakhsh Lahori portrayed him as a warrior riding his favourite horse.

Ranjit Singh’s son and successor, Maharaja Sher Singh, sent the painting in its unusual jewel-encrusted gold frame to Queen Victoria in 1843.