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Maharaja Ranjit Singh and members of his court, approx. 1825

Maharaja Ranjit Singh and members of his court, approx. 1825. India or Pakistan; Punjab region. Opaque watercolors and gold on paper. Asian Art Museum, Gift of the Kapany Collection, 1998.97. Photograph © Asian Art Museum.

Maharaja Ranjit Singh and members of his court, approx. 1825. India or Pakistan; Punjab region. Opaque watercolors and gold on paper. Asian Art Museum, Gift of the Kapany Collection, 1998.97. Photograph © Asian Art Museum.

Ranjit Singh (1780–1839), the white-bearded figure at the upper center of this painting, is remembered as the founder of the first unified Sikh kingdom, which at its height encompassed parts of present-day India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. This is one of numerous surviving images that show Ranjit Singh surrounded by figures who would have been familiar at his court. Although the painting lacks inscriptions, all the men can be tentatively identified since they appear in other, inscribed works. Seated behind Ranjit Singh are his oldest son, the heir apparent Kharak Singh, and his grandson Naunehal Singh. The man seated at the lower center is Sher Singh, another of the maharaja’s sons.