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Studies In Majesty
The work of the 19th century Hungarian artist August Schoefft (1809-1888) might have been forgotten, had the last Sikh Maharaja Duleep Singh not bought a collection of eleven of his paintings from him in 1863.

These paintings of Mughal and Sikh subjects and scenes were the product of a trip made by Schoefft to India from 1838 to 1842. During it, Schoefft travelled from Calcutta (Kolkata), through Delhi where he portrayed the last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar and his two sons, to the Sikh kingdom of the Punjab where he was hosted by the genial anglophile Maharaja Sher Singh.

The spectacular core of this collection is Schoefft’s Court of Lahore panorama. It contains almost sixty identifiable characters who collectively contributed to the fabled splendor of the Sikh Darbar before its collapse in 1849.

The collection was ultimately inherited by Duleep Singh’s grand-daughter Princess Bamba Sutherland who died in Lahore in 1957. Her legatee sold the paintings and other Sikh artefacts to the Pakistan government in 1961.

Over March - June 2021, Schoefft’s paintings have been expertly restored by a team of five Hungarian specialists made available by the Hungarian Government.

It seemed opportune therefore for F.S. Aijazuddin’s book Sikh Portraits by European Artists (1979) - a seminal work on Schoefft’s work in the Princess Bamba collection - to be updated and reissued to commemorate Schoefft’s visit to the Punjab 180 years ago.

This volume is a tribute to the under-appreciated talent of the Hungarian master artist August Schoefft. His 19th century compatriot and host in the Punjab Dr. Martin Honigberger said of him: ‘He has a high reputation all over the peninsula and it gives great credit to our own country to give such men to the world’.

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