Rudolf Swoboda

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A Peep at the Train by Rudolf Swoboda

Rudolf Swoboda the younger (1859–1914) was a 19th-century Austrian painter, born in Vienna. He studied under Leopold Carl Müller, and voyaged with him to Egypt in 1880. He was a well-known Orientalist. His sister was the portrait painter Josefine Swoboda, also well-known for her portraits of the British royal family.

In 1886, Queen Victoria commissioned Swoboda to paint several of a group of Indian artisans who had been brought to Windsor as part of the Golden Jubilee preparations. Victoria liked the resulting paintings so much that she paid Swoboda's way to India to paint more of her Indian subjects.[1]

Swoboda painted many of the ordinary people of India in a grouping of small (no more than eight inches high) paintings which resulted.

While in India, he stayed, part of the time, with John Lockwood Kipling, and met his son Rudyard Kipling. The younger Kipling was unimpressed with Swoboda, writing to a friend about two "Austrian maniacs" who thought they were "almighty" artists aiming to "embrace the whole blazing East".[2]

Upon his return from India, he also painted (in 1888 and 1889) two portraits of Abdul Karim (the Munshi), Victoria's favorite Indian servant.

Portrait of the Munshi by Rudolf Swoboda

Most of these Indian paintings hang at Osborne House, once Victoria's residence on the Isle of Wight.[3]

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