Maharaja Dalip Singh, the Maharaja of Lahore and King of the Sikh Empire, was born on the 6th September 1838, the son of the legendary Lion of the Punjab, Maharaja Ranjit Singh, and the so-called 'Messalina of the Punjab', Maharani Jind Kaur. In 30 years Ranjit Singh, the great warrior king of the Sikhs had carved out a kingdom stretching from the Indian Ocean to the Himalayas.
At the age of 11, Maharajah Dalip Singh, ruler of the Punjab, and owner of the famous Koh-i-Noor diamond was removed from his Kingdom by the British East India Company after the Anglo-Sikh Wars and exiled to Britain. Dalip's mother, the Maharani Jindan, had been dragged screaming from her eleven-year-old son and imprisoned in a fortress. In 1854 Dalip was brought to England to begin his extraordinary journey through fashionable society. Five years later it had led him to Rome to sit for the esteemed Royal Academician John Gibson. In spring 1859 the sculptor began work on the Dalip bust making sketches and maquette studies. The subject wears a voluminous pearl necklace and embroidered kaftan tunic in the Kashmiri taste. His uncut hair, in the religious prescription of his Sikh patrimony, is wound in a turban. He is also bearded.