Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
1979.346.27
People
Lucknow Company School, Indian (early 19th century)
Title
The King of Delhi, Descendant of a Schab, whose Eyes were Put out in Ld. Clive's Time when he was Delivered up to the English; from an Album entitled “Costumes of India”
Classification
Albums
Work Type
album folio
Date
c. 1800
Places
Creation Place: South Asia, India, Northern India
Culture
Indian
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/216069
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Opaque watercolor on paper
Dimensions
34.3 x 26.8 cm (13 1/2 x 10 9/16 in.)
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Mrs. C. Adrian Rübel
Accession Year
1979
Object Number
1979.346.27
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
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Descriptions
Commentary
Label text from exhibition “Company to Crown: Perceptions and Reactions in British India,” April 8–October 15, 2011, curated by Maliha Noorani, 2009–11 Norma Jean Calderwood Curatorial Fellow, Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art, Harvard Art Museums:

The King of Delhi, Descendant of a Schab, Whose Eyes Were Put Out in Ld. Clive’s Time When He Was Delivered up to the English; from an Album Entitled “Costumes of India”
Lucknow, India, c. 1800
Opaque watercolor on paper
Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Mrs. C. Adrian Rübel, 1979.346.27

“The King of Delhi” referenced in the painting, Shah Alam Khan II (r. 1759–1806), was blinded by Afghan Ghulam Qadir, who invaded Delhi in 1787. Qadir was not able to hold Delhi, however, and Shah Alam II continued to rule the city as a puppet of the British, who were not yet strong enough to claim dominance on their own, until his death in 1806.
Part of an album of historical personalities, this painting reveals how the British wished to be perceived. The title “King of Delhi” in capital letters belies the wording below as well as the image above, subtly pointing to the king’s redundancy while amplifying the British position in India. Shah Alam II appears more as a humble ascetic than a Mughal king. Dressed simply and seated beside a Muslim tomb, he is perhaps in prayer. The spare setting and muted tones of the landscape lend an air of resignation.
Exhibition History

Re-View: S231 (Islamic rotation: 7) Company to Crown, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 04/08/2011 - 10/15/2011

Related Works

This record was created from historic documentation and may not have been reviewed by a curator; it may be inaccurate or incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu