As Assistant Political Agent at Peshawar, Mackenzie (1806–1881) was sent to Kabul in 1840, where he led the defence of the fort against the Afghans during the First Afghan War (1839–1842). He was present at the conference at which Sir William Macnaghten was murdered and survived the ill-fated retreat to Jalalabad to be chosen as a hostage by Akbar Khan.
Deeply religious, Mackenzie was respected by the Afghans, who called him ‘the English Mullah’. It is thought that he is portrayed in the clothing provided by Akbar Khan for the negotiations that followed the envoy MacNaghten’s death to increase his chances of survival as a go-between. However, Mackenzie was set free by Sir George Pollock and Akbar Khan fled. Mackenzie served in the Madras Native Infantry, becoming a lieutenant-general in 1877.
Where to see this painting?
National Army Museum
Royal Hospital Road
Chelsea, London, Greater London, England, SW3 4HT
If you are planning a visit to see this painting, check with the collection first. Paintings can be moved at short notice.