Artist: Eden, Emily
This is a lithograph of plate 13 from Emily Eden's 'Portraits of the Princes and People of India'. Ranjit Singh, founder of the Sikh Kingdom in 1792, was one of the most celebrated of Indian rulers and had become an ally of the British. The Governor General travelled all the way from Calcutta to meet Singh.
Eden described the old 'Lion of the Punjab', who was by now partially paralysed: "He retained a perfect simplicity, or rather plainness of appearances, while his Chiefs and Courtiers around him wore the most brilliant draperies and a rich profusion of jewels. His manners were always quiet, and he spoke chiefly in endless desultory questions; among which, as if without premeditation, or a particular interest in it, he introduced the one which was of importance to him ... He had a curious and constant trick ... of raising one of his legs under him on the chair, which he used in compliance with the customs of his European visitors, and then pulling the stocking from that foot. He had the use of only one eye, which age, and a hard life of exposure and excesses, had dimmed ... but it still retained the traces of the vigour and penetration for which he was remarkable."