A pair of portraits: Mussulman and Indian one signed 'R C Swoboda' (lower right), the other signed 'Rudolph Swoboda' (lower right) oil on panel one 30 x 19cm (11 13/16 x 7 1/2in); the other 27 x 16cm (10 5/8 x 6 5/16in)
PROVENANCE: Sale, Sotheby's New York, 17 Jan 1996, lot 543
EXHIBITED: London, The Empire of India Exhibition, 1895
Rudolf Swoboda the younger was born in Vienna and in his early career he studied under the tutelage of Leopold Carl Müller. The pair travelled to Egypt together in 1880 observing, noting, and sketching their findings.
In 1885, Queen Victoria commissioned the artist to paint a series of portraits of Indians and other British colonial subjects for the Colonial and Indian Exhibition of 1886. He later travelled to the Indian sub-continent at Queen Victoria's request to produce sketches of the local population. Among his subjects were Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus, with occupations ranging from military officers to snake charmers and jugglers. The portraits in the present lot were most likely a product of this endeavour and commissioned by the Queen herself.
Swoboda's portraits describe the diversity of Indian society in finely observed detail. The portraits of the men in the present lot are testament to his high level of draughtsmanship and ability to represent his subjects in an almost photo-realistic light. Although the men are anonymous, their wrinkles and expressions define them as unique individuals.
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