|A self-portrait of artist and designer Robert Home (1752-1834), court painter to the King of Oudh. This image, posted in Wikipedia's Robert Home article, has been in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery since 1943.|
A native of the city of Hull, Home (pronounced "Hume") spent a highly productive chunk of his senior years in Lucknow, working for 13 years as the court painter to Ghazi-ud-din Haider (1769-1827), the seventh nawab wazir and first king of Oudh, before dying in Cawnpore. (The name of the kingdom is pronounced "uh-VUD.") This sophisticated monarch of Persian lineage and Muslim faith was limned by Home in a marvelous portrait that was identified last year. The circa-1819 image shown below was included in a 2011 exhibition of Lucknow portraiture at the Musée Guimet in Paris and is now offered for sale by the London gallery Philip Mould. Another of Home's portraits of his royal patron, a rather large example, is the collection of Queen Elizabeth II (Her Majesty also owns two additional Home works); another hangs in the Victoria Memorial Hall in Kolkata. A description of the last-cited painting, published in 1907, is as follows: "[The King] is dressed in a canary-yellow chapkan; and strings of pearls and other precious stones encircle his neck and bluish-yellow turban." When he wasn't busy painting the ruler, his wives, and their children, Home put likenesses of British official to canvas, including the Marquess of Wellesley (the future Duke of Wellington), of whom he painted more than a dozen portraits.
|Ghazi-ud-din Haider, King of Oudh, circa 1819, in a portrait by Robert Hume. The work is presently being offered for sale by Philip Mould, a gallery in London.|
|An extraordinary crocodile barge designed for the King of Oudh by Robert Home. The image, which is contained in an album of Home designs held in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, was published in "Made for Maharajahs: A Design Diary of Princely India" (Vendome Press, 2006). © V&A Images/ Victoria and Albert Museum.|
|The fish-shape Royal Boat of Oudh, a torpedo-like pleasure vessel with decorative fins, as seen circa 1858-1860. The image, by Anglo-Italian photographer Felice Beato (1832-1909), is from Bernard Shapero Fine Books, via Wikipedia's article about the photographer.|
|An 1895 image of Bara Chattar Manzil, a palace complex erected by the first King of Oudh, which was built alongside the Gomti River between 1819 and 1837. Among its pleasures was an English-style picture gallery furnished with chairs designed by Robert Home. Image by G. W. Lawrie and Company, from the website Old Indian Photos.|
|Bara Chattar Manzil, the former palace of the King of Oudh, as it is today. Image from the website of the Central Drug Research Institute.|
The splendid palace complex, which is located on a bank of the Gomti River, caused some Western visitors to wince, particularly individuals claiming refined taste. The 1883 Encyclopaedia Britannica approached it with barely concealed condescension, calling the structure " a huge and irregular pile of buildings, crowned by gilt umbrellas, [that] glitters gaudily in the sunlight." An English visitor of the time had a similar opinion, reporting that it was "an immense mass of buildings with no architectural pretension." Partly transformed into a soldiers' club and library after the deposition of the royal family in the 1850s, Bara Chattar Manzil is now the headquarters of the Central Drug Research Institute.
|The arms of the Kings of Oudh, which incorporate twin fishes centered between two tigers passant. The female figures appear to be winged mermaids, which also figured in Oudhian iconography. Image from the website Royal Ark.|
|A carved-wood armchair with gilded brass and gilded gesso mounts, likely designed by Robert Home for the first king of Oudh, circa 1820. Later owned by the 5th Earl Amherst of Arracan, it is now in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum. © V&A Images/ Victoria and Albert Museum. The chair is also featured in the 2001 book "Furniture from British India and Ceylon" (Peabody Essex Museum in association with V&A Publications).|