This research analyses the court miniatures painted during the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, otherwise known as The Lahore Darbar Miniatures. Furthermore, the essay highlights the main characters of the Darbar depicted in these paintings, which helps us to understand the medium in layers as well as the industry which was formed to aid this school of paintings. The city of Lahore plays a vital role in the identity of these paintings, as not only did the city work together to produce these paintings, but the paintings have become evidence of the city’s history and its changing hands of power.
Throughout India and Persia, numerous styles and schools of painting were practised. When Maharaja Ranjit Singh came to power and claimed his throne in the capital of Punjab, Lahore, he decided to bring painters from all over India and Persia and settle them in Lahore to form ateliers. The amalgamation of artists, schools, material, techniques and ideals of beauty, power, authority and the holy come together to form what would be called the Lahore School of Miniatures or the Miniatures of the Lahore Darbar.
Working with two major museums of Lahore, the Lahore Museum and the Faqir Khana Museum, this research studies the material and the ideological aspects of these paintings and shows how the painting itself becomes evidence of a city’s artistic triumph.
Using a few case studies representing a microcosm, the story of the painting and the city in the story are revealed.