Indian Celebrities: Sir Donald Stewart


This three-quarter-view portrait of Sir Donald Stewart (1824–1900) is from an album of rare historical photographs depicting people and places associated with the Second Anglo-Afghan War. Stewart commanded the Kandahar Field Force (also known as the Quetta Army) in October 1878 and, after arduous marching across harsh terrain and several cavalry battles against Afghan forces, successfully occupied Kandahar in January 1879. He was promoted to commander in chief in India in April 1881 and to field marshal in 1894. He is shown here in the uniform of a lieutenant general. During the British Raj of 1858–1947, prominent British administrators and military men were often considered as “Indian” celebrities. The Second Anglo-Afghan War began in November 1878 when Great Britain, fearful of what it saw as growing Russian influence in Afghanistan, invaded the country from British India. The first phase of the war ended in May 1879 with the Treaty of Gandamak, which permitted the Afghans to maintain internal sovereignty but forced them to cede control over their foreign policy to the British. Fighting resumed in September 1879, after an anti-British uprising in Kabul, and finally concluded in September 1880 with the decisive Battle of Kandahar. The album includes portraits of British and Afghan leaders and military personnel, portraits of ordinary Afghan people, and depictions of British military camps and activities, structures, landscapes, and cities and towns. The sites shown are all located within the borders of present-day Afghanistan or Pakistan (a part of British India at the time). About a third of the photographs were taken by John Burke (circa 1843–1900), another third by Sir Benjamin Simpson (1831–1923), and the remainder by several other photographers. Some of the photographs are unattributed. The album possibly was compiled by a member of the British Indian government, but this has not been confirmed. How it came to the Library of Congress is not known.


Type of Item

Physical Description

1 photographic print in an album : albumen


  1. R.H. Vetch, “Stewart, Sir Donald Martin, first baronet (1824–1900),” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).

Last updated: September 30, 2016