Saturday, 7 November 2009

Kings of the Punjab at the ROM

Kings of the Punjab at the ROM 

From Saturday November 28, 2009 to Sunday, March 28 2010 life sized portraits of historic Punjabi kings will be on temporary display at Royal Ontario Museum (ROM). These oil-on-canvas paintings created by established portrait artist Manu Kaur Saluja will be showcased in the “Home & the World” section of the Ondaatje Gallery .The two portraits are significant for both their quality and for being contemporary imaginings of significant historical figures.

One, depicting Maharaja Duleep Singh (1838 -1893), is a copy of a celebrated painting housed in the Royal Collection of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.The other painting, completed in summer 2009, is an original composition still in the artist’s collection. Depicting the most famous of Punjab kings, Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1780 –1839), Saluja’s work is unlike most historical portraits that depict the king as an old man.

The artist’s re-imagining portrays him as a young man full of the strength and power that led to his nickname “The Lion of Punjab”. To create this work, Saluja was given special access to the original jewellery, armour and throne that once belonged to this king. These possessions are now in various public and private collections throughout the United Kingdom.

Dr. Deepali Dewan, the ROM’s curator of South Asian Art, states, “Manu Kaur Saluja's portraits are contemporary creations that connect with historical arts in South Asia as much as with works in the modern world. For me, the paintings are not only beautiful to look at. They also offer an intervention into colonial narratives about Sikh history." 

The display of these two paintings is a collaboration of the Royal Ontario Museum and the Spinning Wheel Film Festival.


About the Artist
Manu Kaur Saluja’s oil portraits hang in prominent institutions and in the homes of influential families throughout North America. Saluja trained with John Frederick Murray at the School of Visual Arts in New York. She is a 2003 recipient of the Centennial Award for artistic achievement from the Sikh Centennial Foundation of Canada.

In 1999 she was a finalist in the nation’s largest portrait competition sponsored by The Artist Magazine. Her paintings have been featured in Nishaan Magazine (IV/2002), House Magazine (Sept/Oct 2001), and the Graphis New Talent Annual (1998). She has presented her work at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C. and at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. She currently resides in New York City.

The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) is an agency of the Government of Ontario.

Opened in 1914, Canada's largest museum combining both natural history and world cultures holds six million objects in its collections and presents public galleries showcasing art, archaeology and natural science. Renaissance ROM is an ambitious expansion and heritage renovation project that reasserts the Royal Ontario Museum as one of North America's great museums and a leading cultural attraction for the city, province and country. Renaissance ROM continues until 2010 with several new and renovated galleries to be
created at the Museum. For 24-hour information in English and French, please call 416.586.8000 or visit the ROM's web site at

ROM tickets now available online:


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