For the promotion of Indian art, this book has been written after examining the collections of most of the native princes, and especially their libraries, pictures and portraits.
The Author has already published several works on the art treasures of the chiefs; but it occurred that no work would be more interesting than one on themselves, in which it will be seen what manner of men they now are; and what their ancestors, who ruled or carved out states for themselves in the past, were. The ruling Princes in the Province has all most kindly made this scheme possible, by not only allowing to copy their portraits, but by subscribing for copies of the work, so literally as to enable to undertake the production of what would, otherwise, have been beyond the resources of a private individual.
The book includes as many portraits as possible, from the end of the 16th century to the present date; of these the chief are, that the emperor Akbar, who reign at the beginning of the period, was the real founder of the Mughal Empire, and the first of the Mohamedan lords of Delhi, who may with correctness, be said to have been a real suzerain to the Chiefs of Rajputana. Moreover, at the same period began, under Queen Elizabeth and King James, the first connection of England with India; and lastly, Akbar was a great patron of art, who apparently was the first to encourage, by his own example, the practice of portraiture, and to patronize artist and literary men.
The book also includes portraits of British Rulers from Queen Elizabeth; of the Governors-General and Viceroys (not omitting Lord Clive, though he was only Governor of Bengal); and of the Mughal Emperors from Akbar himself. The religious toleration of the latter has been indicated by a unique miniature in which he is shown wearing Hindu sectarian marks.
Her Majesty the Queen-Empress has been graciously pleased to accept the dedication of this book, and permited to have copies made of miniatures and pictures of British sovereigns in the Royal collection.
Portrait of H.E. The Earl of Elgin, the then Viceroy and Governor-General, has also been given and some of the photos have been taken from his book. As regards the other portraits, it will be seen at once that many of them are very rough and conventional; but they are the best that can be obtained, and have been selected from a large series. They have all been accepted by the Princes themselves and the best they can obtain. Most of them, even if not good as portraits, are interesting as indicating the costumes of the Chiefs at the time. In some families it has proved impossible to procure complete sets, as in distant States there were frequently no artist of any kind; in others,?as for example, at Tonk, two of the Musalman Nawabs were prevented by religious scruples from having their portraits taken.
The text is only sufficiently long to enable the reader to understand the leading events, in which the persons represented took part. It is, of necessity, for the most part, a compilation from well-known authorities: many additions have, however, been made from native works and less-known pamphlets.
As Administrative Medical Officer in Rajputana since 1895, if not previously as Medical Officer in Jeypore and Jodhpore, the author has visited all the capital except Jaisalmer, and had a personal acquaintance with nearly all the living Chiefs, or with their immediate predecessors. He was present at the marriages and deaths of several; was in political charge of the Maharaja of Kishangarh at the Delhi Assemblage; and have ever taken the deepest interest in their history and customs. These facts will be accepted as the excuse for undertaking the preparation of this work.