This image blends elements of traditional Indian royal portraiture with some awareness of European-style presentation. An inscription in a cartouche identifies Maharaja Karam Singh (reigned 1813–1845), and the small figure accompanying him in matching dress may be understood as his son. The maharaja is seated in profile, his head in a turban and surrounded by a halo, as is typical for depicting Sikh royalty; his chair, however, is of European style and his military-type garments also reflect British influence. At the top and bottom of the image are the sumptuous textiles for which Sikh courts were renowned. The Indian artist has placed his subject in a receding space, enhancing the sense of intimate viewing and adding to the eclectic nature of the image.
Patiala was and remains an important cultural center for the Sikhs. Karam Singh himself built shrines in honor of the gurus and endowed their maintenance.