A Couple Enjoying a Terrace Ambiance at Night

Attributed to Nidha Mal

Mughal, Faizabad or Lucknow, c. 1750-1770

Ink, opaque watercolour, and gold on paper

31cm high, 26cm wide 

Private European Collection, exhibited in Paris, 1973

Stock no.: A4161

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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. 

A Couple Enjoying a Terrace Ambiance at Night