Maharaja Jiyaji Rao

Maharaja Jiyaji Rao, (1835, r. 1843-1886)
Scindia of Gwalior

Gwalior circa 1860

Watercolour on paper
26 x 21 in. (66 x 53.5 cm.)

Gwalior was one of the successor states arising out of the collapse of the Mughal Empire and of the Maratha Confederacy. The Marathas were a fierce warrior race from the northern Deccan, the power of the Marathas began when their leader Shivaji and his successors defied the might of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb in the later seventeenth century. Maharaja Jiyaji Rao Scindia was adopted by Maharani Tara Bai Raje Sahiba, Regent of Gwalior – widow of H. H. Maharaja Jankoji Rao, he ascended the throne of Gwalior in 1843. He received Prince of Wales and KIH gold medal in 1876 and 1877 respectively and attended the imperial Durbar at Delhi in 1877.

In this portrait Maharaja Jiyaji Rao has been represented in a highly stylised way. Little work had been done on portraiture in central India prior to the introduction of photography. The portraits that existed appeared to be similar to works by Delhi artists, showing the subject in naturalistic poses but flattened and with highly decorative details.