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Begum Samru's Household, 1820


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This painting was made for Begum Samru (Sumroo), an Indian who employed and entertained large numbers of Westerners, converted to Catholicism, and had two European husbands. She was powerful and wealthy, and also, it is said, ruthless and cruel. The painting, which includes the name of each individual portrayed, incorporates both Indian and European elements.

She was the head of a professionally trained mercenary army, inherited from her European mercenary husband, Walter Reinhardt Sombre. This mercenary army consisted of Europeans and Indians. She is also regarded as the only Catholic Ruler in India, as she ruled the Principality of Sardhana in 18th and 19th century India.


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