The Sir Christopher Ondaatje South Asian Gallery hosts a special temporary display of two life-size portraits of historical kings of the state of Punjab in north-western India. Hanging in the “Home & the World” section, the oil-on-canvas paintings by established portrait artist Manu Kaur Saluja offer contemporary imaginings of two significant historical figures.
One, depicting Maharaja Duleep Singh (1838 -1893) and is a copy of a celebrated painting housed in the Royal Collection of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The other depicts the most famous of Punjab kings, Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1780 –1839). Unlike most historical portraits, Saluja portrays him as a young man full of the strength and power that led to his nickname The Lion of Punjab.
These two paintings are displayed alongside artifacts from the Punjab that are in the Museum’s permanent collection, including an important manuscript from Maharaja Ranjit Singh's court and a model of the Golden Temple, Amritsar. This gives a sense of the historical and cultural context of the courts ruled by the kings depicted in the paintings.
The display is a collaboration of the ROM and the Spinning Wheel Film Festival.