Maharaja Ranjit Singh in a Bazaar

India, Punjab, Lahore

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 693

In this curious painting, the famed leader of the Sikhs of the Punjab, Maharaja Ranjit Singh (r. 1801–39), proceeds on an elephant through Lahore. In the foreground, oblivious to the parade, is a diverse group of religious figures: an Akali Sikh (bearded) is in conversation with three Hindu sadhus, observed by a Jain Svetambara monk wearing a white facecloth. In the bazaar beyond, daily activity goes on uninterrupted. The patchwork nature of this composition is probably the result of the painter borrowing established figure types from other paintings rather than creating his own. It was likely commissioned by a Frenchman in the service of Ranjit Singh, the most famous of whom was Jean-François Allard (1785–1839), who served as a military adviser from 1822 until the maharaja’s death. A fragmentary inscription on the reverse begins “Souvenir `a….”

Maharaja Ranjit Singh in a Bazaar, Opaque watercolor on paper, India, Punjab, Lahore

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