Nidha Mal, a talented artist at the court of Emperor Muhammad Shah, relocated to Awadh after Nadir Shah of Persia plundered Delhi
Sitting like jewels on a crown, are the several heritage buildings in Lucknow, that boast of nonpareil architecture. This creative finesse also found its way to the artistic paraphernalia of Nidha Mal, an 18th-century artist, who immortalised Awadh through his creative ability in the iconic and naturalistic Delhi style of painting. The two most famous paintings attributed to him are- 'Prince and Ladies in a Garden' (mid-18th century) and 'A painting of an Oudh Nobleman Reclining on a Couch by Moonlight' (circa 1750). So if you are even slightly intrigued and wish to add more information to your knowledge bank about the artistic heritage of Lucknow, then keep scrolling to know about the nuances of these artworks.
Set in paint for eternity & beyond!
Prince and Ladies in a Garden by Nidha Mal
Nidha Mal, a talented artist at the court of Emperor Muhammad Shah, relocated to Awadh after Nadir Shah of Persia plundered Delhi. His oeuvre includes several brilliant artworks, however, only these two paintings have yet been related to the City of Nawabs.
A manifestation of sringar rasa (commonly understood as love), the artist portrays a couple flanked by a group of servants in his 'Prince and Ladies in a Garden' painting. Reminiscent of the aesthetics of another Mughal artist, Chitarman, this scene of leisure is typically in the style of later Mughal paintings practised at provincial centres, here in Lucknow. Currently, this painting is a part of the collection at the Met Museum in New York.
Using gold, silver and opaque pigments on wasli (a type of handmade paper), Nidha Mal showcases a royal scene in 'A painting of an Oudh Nobleman Reclining on a Couch by Moonlight'. Here, the prince dressed in white attire, is holding a huqqa and motioning to a singer and musician seated before him. This scene is set against the backdrop of a white marble parapet and a river with boats, under a full-moon night sky.
This piece is a humble attempt to document a few important milestones in the journey and evolution of Lucknow's art culture. Although crossing oceans to bear witness to these beauties is a hassle in this pandemic-ridden world, we hope that this sneak-peek is enough to quench your curiosity, at least for now!