A Couple Enjoying a Terrace Ambiance at Night
Painted in cool greys with subtle colours, a loving couple walk in a walled garden, probably in the zenana or harem of their palace. A handmaiden leads the way holding a lighted candle and a group of women follow the couple. One holds a morchal or peacock feathered whisk and the others play stringed musical instruments. Beyond the wall are blossoming trees and cypresses. The couple are walking in the moonlight towards the pavilion for a loving encounter. The cool moon glow and fine detailing of the painting give this scene an atmospheric effect. Terrace settings painted in fine grey and white tones with figures shimmering in moonlight became a preference for the Mughal court artist Nidha Mal after his move to Lucknow. This painting compares favourably to a signed moonlit painting by Nidha Mal, published in Markel, India’s Fabled City: The Art of Courtly Lucknow, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2010, fig. 20, p. 171.