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Shah Shuja holding a durbar at Kabul (Afghanistan)

Shah Shuja holding a durbar at Kabul (Afghanistan)

Artist: Atkinson, James (1780-1852)

Medium: Watercolour

Date: 1839

Shelfmark: WD2406

Item number: 2406

Length: 24.8

Width: 36.5

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Painting

Water-colour sketch of Shah Shuja holding a durbar at Kabul, Afghanistan by James Atkinson (1780 – 1852) between 1839 and 1840. This is plate 22 from the album 'Sketches in Afghaunistan'. Inscribed on the mount is: 'A Durbar held by Shar Shooja at Caubul.'


During the 19th century the British were sporadically engaged in conflicts with Afghan leaders due to British fear of Russian encroachment on their Indian colony and internal divisions within Afghanistan. Shah Shuja-ul-Mulk was the Amir of Afghanistan from 1802 until 1809 when he was driven out by Mahmud Shah. The Governor-General of India Lord Auckland attempted to restore Shah Shuja in 1839 against the wishes of the Afghan people. This policy led to the disastrous first Anglo-Afghan War (1839-42). After the retreat of British troops from Kabul Shah Shuja shut himself up in his fortress, the Bala Hissar. He left this refuge and was killed by adherents of Dost Muhammad and his son Akbar Khan on 5th April 1842.

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