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Kharak Singh

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Punjab Plain (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1835 - ca. 1840 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Painted in opaque watercolour on paper

  • Credit Line:

    Purchased with Art Fund support

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Kharak Singh (1801–1840) was the second Sikh Maharaja of the Punjab and succeeded his father, Ranjit Singh, in June 1839. He was frail in constitution and unable to withstand the plotting against him that took place as rival factions at court tried to take power. His most trusted courtier and former tutor, Chet Singh, was murdered in front of him in 1839 by Dhian Singh, a member of the Hindu Dogra family, and Kharak Singh was then effectively Dhian Singh’s prisoner. He was slowly poisoned and died on 5 November 1840.

Physical description

Painting, opaque watercolour on paper, depicting Kharak Singh seated in a gold chair, set with jewels, beneath an arch on a white terrace dressed in a dark green coat speckled with gold. He has a black beard and a green turban, holds a rose in his right hand and in his left a white cloth, and faces left. The background is red, with a band of white and pale blue at the top. He appears to be about 25-30 in the portrait.

Place of Origin

Punjab Plain (made)


ca. 1835 - ca. 1840 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Painted in opaque watercolour on paper

Marks and inscriptions

'Cadooga Singh Maharajah'
English inscription, written in pencil on the back of the painting


Height: 200 mm, Width: 141 mm, Height: 142 mm image within innermost painted borders, Width: 84 mm image within innermost painted borders

Object history note

The painting was previously in the collection of Sir William Rothenstein. This painting was bought by the V&A from the widow of Sir William Rothenstein, the former Rector of the Royal College of Art, who had built up an important collection of Indian paintings and drawings. (According to the Register this painting was given by the family of the late Sir William Rothenstein).

Descriptive line

Painting, Kharak Singh, opaque watercolour on paper, Punjab Plain, ca. 1835-1840

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

cat. 12, p. 138 and fig. 22.
Paintings of the Sikhs / W.G. Archer. London: H. M. Stationery Office, 1966

Production Note



Opaque watercolour; Paper; Paint



Subjects depicted

Ruler; Terrace; Chair


Paintings; Portraits; Bonita Trust Indian Paintings Cataloguing Project


South & South East Asia Collection

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