'Ramnuggar. Palace of the Maharajah of Benares. India. October 1878'
Artist: North, Marianne (1830-1890)
Medium: Oil on paper
Oil painting of the Palace of the Maharaja of Benares by Marianne North, dated October 1878.
Initially Marianne North (1830-1890) only painted botanical specimens and travelled around the world in search of interesting subject matter. She visited India in 1877-79 and completed over 200 paintings whilst there, painting landscape views as well. Ramnagar Palace is situated on the right bank of the Ganges River and was made the capital of the former princely state of Benares (Varanasi) by Raja Balwant Singh (r. 1739-1770) in 1750. The fortress of Ramnagar was constructed mostly by this Raja, who governed the province of Benares on behalf of the Nawabs of Avadh (Oudh). The rebellion of his son Chait Singh in 1781 against the exactions of the East India Company caused the province to be annexed by the Company. The palace was later returned to the family, who became known as the Maharajas of Benares. In her autobiography, 'Recollections of a happy life' of 1892, she wrote:
"The old palace looked noble from the river. On the opposite side the High Chamberlain met me...He put me into...an open carriage with fine English horses, and said it was cool then I had best go and see the gardens first; after that the Maharajah would receive me. I...was taken to the temple, tank, and garden, and...went inside, up the great marble stairs, where the old Maharajah met me...We went out and sat on a marble balcony hanging over the river."