After a lapse of several years, the general public will witness the masterpieces of art at The Princess Bamba’s museum in Lahore Fort, which earlier were only available for important foreign delegates as well as VVIPs visiting the monument.
Princess Bamba’s museum situated in Lahore Fort, which was under the control of Punjab Archeology Department, had been closed to general public for a long period. The museum hosts several masterpieces painted by a Hungarian artist in late 18th century.
Recently, Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA) got administrative control of Lahore Fort after which it took several steps for conservation and improvement in fort. The move was also a result of the efforts of WCLA, which convinced Archeology Department to open this museum to general public.
Before opening this museum, WCLA coordinated with Hungarian Embassy, which on the request of WCLA sent a Hungarian art expert to study the paintings which are present in the Sikh Gallery. Officials said Hungarian expert, Dr Zoltán Dragon PhD art historian came to Lahore and studied the paintings namely The Court of Lahore, Dalip Singh, Bahadar Shah Zafar (Last Mughal Emperor), View of Kolkatta City, View of Banaras City, Sher Singh, Maharaja Ranjit Singh listening to the Granth being recited near the Golden Temple, Amritsar, Sher Singh in Council, Shahzada Jawan Bakhat and Mirza Mughal.
A senior official of WCLA revealed that in his detailed report Dr Zoltán Dragon, who visited Lahore to study the paintings, said that the paintings condition was ambivalent.
“Although all of them are in a protected space, separated from visitors by a glass pane or a cordon, the windows in the wall opposite the entrance are not hermetically sealed, thus, works of art installed there are more exposed to external environmental impacts, while extreme thermal fluctuation is also triggered by the wind coming into the room,” he wrote and added objects located closer to the entrance, protected more efficiently, are in better state, these are the pieces entitled Maharaja Ranjit Singh listening to the Granth being recited near the Golden Temple, Amritsar and Sher Singh in Council. “Even in the case of these works, paint losses appear at some places on the surface, and discoloured varnish covers the images all over,” he said.
“The Court of Lahore is more damaged partly due to its size resulting from its weight and the lower third of the canvas got loose, cupped moreover, flaking typically appears on this area. At some places, paint losses take up 1-2 N cm of the surface,” he added. During his study of paintings, he also found traces of earlier treatments on the canvas.
WCLA officials said these paintings are the work of Ágoston Schoefft who executed the pieces between either 1841-1842, or 1841/2-1855, based on his travel pieces. “The two dates marked his journey to Lahore and the 1855 exhibition in Vienna, with the finished paintings on view,” said Tanya Qureshi.
WCLA DG Kamran Lashari said this is a Sikh Gallery inside the Lahore Fort and holds masterpieces of paintings which were painted by a Hungarian in the Sikh era.
The Hungarian Embassy was kind enough to send an expert for the study of these paintings and hopefully the conservation will also be carried out, he said, adding the expert gave a detailed analysis of the paintings and their conditions.
Director Conservation and Planning WCLA, Najam-us-Saqib said the authority was trying to improve the condition of the Sikh Gallery and make it a state-of-the-art gallery in very near future. “This is now opened to general public and I am glad that people are taking interest and visiting this site,” he said, adding the authority will also be improving the lights and write-ups of the gallery very soon.
By Ali Raza August 13, 2016