Title: Model of a Canon
Artist(s): Manufactured by James Donnithorne (1773-1852)
Date: c. 1820
Dimensions: H. in.
Museum number: 98
Physical location: Section 4: The Taxidermied Horse Presented as Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s Asp (Mare) Laila
Bibliographic Reference(s):William Moorcroft & George Trebeck, Himalayan Provinces of Hindustan and the Punjab in Ladakh and Kashmir, in Peshawar, Kabul, Kunduz and Bukhara form 1819 to 1825, ed. H. H. Wilson (New Delhi: Asian Educational Services, 2004 ), 1: 95–96.
William Moorcroft, a surgeon by profession, visited Punjab on his way to Turkistan in May 1820. The purpose of his travels was to procure stallions for the East India Company’s military stud at Bengal where he was engaged as the Superintendent. Moorcroft notes in his journal that he went to the Lahore Fort accompanied by Fakir Nuruddin to meet Maharaja Ranjit Singh on May 8, 1820. Among the objects he had brought for the Maharaja as presents were a few pistols, a sword and a miniature model of a cannon “with carriage and all appurtenances complete.” Moorcroft notes that this was made by Mr. Donnithorne, the mint master at Farokhabad (Uttarpradesh, India) and admires it as “of singularly beautiful execution.” It is highly probable that the small cannon displayed in the Sikh Gallery is the same model Moorcroft presented to the Maharaja and not a toy gun crafted for Duleep Singh as projected by the museum records.
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