Sheikh Chidda; Queen Victoria

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© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Sheikh Chidda; Queen Victoria

by Hills & Saunders
carbon print, 17 July 1893
18 in. x 23 5/8 in. (457 mm x 600 mm)
Purchased, 1901
Primary Collection

Sittersback to top

  • Sheikh Chidda, Indian servant to Queen Victoria. Sitter associated with 2 portraits. Identify
  • Queen Victoria (1819-1901), Reigned 1837-1901. Sitter associated with 548 portraits, Artist or producer associated with 5 portraits. Identify

Artistback to top

  • Hills & Saunders (active 1850-1900), Photographers. Artist or producer associated with 206 portraits.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Rogers, Malcolm, Camera Portraits, 1989 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 20 October 1989 - 21 January 1990), p. 137 Read entry

    To her great satisfaction Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India in 1876 and thereafter imported an Indian flavour to her court. There was a Durbar Room at Osborne, and, after the death of John Brown, she employed as her personal attendant an Indian servant Abdul Karim from Agra. His airs made him, like Brown before, most unpopular in court circles, but the Queen defended him with absolute tenacity, and he remained in her service until her death. In 1888 Abdul Karim refused to continue to wait at table, because in Agra he had been a clerk or Munshi, not a menial, and in 1889 he was created Queen's Munshi. He rapidly graduated, as Prince Albert had done, from blotting the Queen's letters to helping in their composition. He looked after 'all my boxes', and gave his mistress lessons in Hindustani: 'a very strict Master' and 'a perfect Gentleman'. He was painted, like the Queen, by Von Angeli.

    In this photograph by the Eton firm founded by Robert Hills and John Henry Saunders, the Queen is shown working at her boxes, seated in her garden-tent at Frogmore House, Windsor.

  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 635

Placesback to top

Events of 1893back to top

Current affairs

Keir Hardie is among the group who formalise the Independent Labour Party, and is elected chairman and party leader at the opening conference. Gladstone continues with his campaign for home rule in Ireland, introducing the Second Home Rule Bill, which is passed by the Commons but vetoed by the Lords.

Art and science

Art Nouveau becomes a fully established movement in European art and design, after emerging in different countries and across different disciplines at the start of the decade. Key figures include the illustrator Aubrey Beardsley, architects Victor Horta and Paul Hankar, and the designer Alphonse Mucha. Art Nouveau is characterised by the 'whiplash' line, a decorative line which represents graphically the desire to break free from traditional aesthetic constraints.


Gandhi's ejection from a South African train carriage on account of his race is the catalyst for his non-violent activism in leading the struggle for Indian independence from British rule.
New Zealand becomes the first self-governing country to grant women the vote.
The Chicago World's Fair is visited by more than 200 million people, with Nikola Tesla and George Westinghouse introducing electrical power to illuminate the fair.

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Dan Barker

21 September 2017, 10:54

The caption of this photograph references Sheikh Chidda, 'Indian servant to Queen Victoria', but under 'This portrait' you have the text:

In this photograph [Abdul] Karim stand [sic] in attendance

So the page is referencing two different people. The reference here to Abdul Karim, Victoria's 'Munshi' looks incorrect – the portrait of Karim by Rudolf Swoboda presented by the Royal Collection at looks to show a different man from the one in this photograph, based on style of beard, shape of face (particularly the jawline) and the shape of the eyebrows.

The portrait shown in the Oxford DNB's article for Abdul Karim (see also looks to be incorrect, and possibly also of Sheikh Chidda – although the credit on the ODNB page is for the NPG, the image they show doesn't appear on your site under Karim.