Ranjit Singh: Sikh, Warrior, King at the Wallace Collection

Diminutive, scarred by smallpox, and blind in one eye, Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1780–1839) was a formidable personality with an enduring sense of destiny. Forged by his extraordinary skill in battle, and some diplomatic artistry, the Sikh Empire brought a long-awaited period of tranquillity to the Punjab following years of disunity and the chaos prompted by successive waves of Afghan invasions. From the magnificent durbar, or royal court, located in the walled city of Lahore, the ‘Lion of the Punjab’, presided over a flourishing artistic culture which was deeply informed by the remarkable diversity of its participants.

This spring, the Wallace Collection’s landmark exhibition Ranjit Singh: Sikh, Warrior, King invites visitors to explore this golden age and the legacies it left behind. From glittering jewellery to intricately crafted weaponry and armour, the display will feature significant historical objects from the ascendant Sikh Empire, including items of personal significance to the maharaja and the most famous of his thirty ‘official’ wives, Maharani Jind Kaur (1817–1863). Scattered throughout will be tales of the lesser-known characters who inhabited this fascinating period, including the many firangis, or ‘franks’, whose collective presence gave rise to what was almost certainly the most cosmopolitan court in the world.

For the first time, the Wallace Collection’s assembly of Sikh arms and armour will be displayed alongside other Sikh works from major public and private collections, providing a unique opportunity to view these stunning objects in context.

The exhibition will run from 10 April to 20 October 2024. Click here for more information and to book.