Maharaja Duleep Singh’s Rare Photo Set For UK Auction

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LONDON – A previously unknown photograph of Maharaja Duleep Singh depicting him as an English country gentleman with classic Victorian-style sideburns and a beard is being offered for sale next month by a firm of UK auctioneers.

Mullock’s auctioneers from Ludlow in Shropshire are handling the albumen print of Duleep Singh showing him centre focus, leaning to one side, seated in boots, deerstalker (Sherlock Holmes-type hat) and tweeds as part of a Scottish hunting party, dated Thornham 1877.

The Thornham estate was for three centuries the country seat of the Barons of Hartismere and Henniker and three members of the Henniker family, Hon A.Henniker, Hon A.Henniker Major and Lord Henniker are pictured alongside Duleep Singh. Also included in the same picture are the Marquis of Ormonde, Lord Homesdale and JR Gladstone.

The auctioneers describe the photograph, measuring approx 20x15cm, as mounted on a large album page and to its side is a neatly drawn manuscript table showing the results of the shoot at Thornham Hall that week — totalling more than 2,000 creatures killed.

Original photographs of the last Maharaja of Punjab are excessively rare and highly sought after. This particular picture was taken nine years before Duleep Singh returned to the Sikh faith in 1886, when he was forcibly detained in Aden en route to India, when he made his famous appeal, “I beg forgiveness of you, Khalsa-ji, for having forsaken the faith of my ancestors for a foreign religion. It is my fond desire to take the Pahul again on reaching Bombay.”

Thornham is about an hour’s drive from what was Duleep Singh’s own 17,000 acrecountry estate at Elveden that was bought for him in 1863. The estate was modernized and changed into an efficient wildlife park where the Maharaja earned his reputation as the fourth best shot in England. After Duleep Singh’s death in Paris in 1893, Elveden was sold to pay off his debts. It is currently owned by descendants of the Guinness family.