Asfi Mosque, Bara Imambara, Lucknow - Early 19th-century Indian Company painting


An original early 19th-century watercolour painting, Asfi Mosque, Bara Imambara, Lucknow.

A beautifully intricate and intensely coloured Indian Company school miniature in ink and watercolour. This painting shows the majestic Asfi mosque with its lofty minarets, to the west of the Bara Imambara complex at Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh.

This miniature is particularly interesting in showing a rare architectural view before the mosque complex suffered damage during the Great Uprising fighting of 1857, and underwent subsequent modification. Whereas the frontage is now ascended to via a huge flight of steps, this painting shows the original lower tier of arches. (A topographical bird’s-eye view drawing of the complex in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, c.1800, also shows evidence of this).

Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh, was ruled by the Muslim Nawabs of Avadh (Oudh) until the middle of the 19th century. Architect Kifayat-ullah designed the Great Imambara complex in 1784 for ruler Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula of Awadh (r.1778-97). The architecture of the Bara Imambara is unique, the buildings made entirely out of Lucknowi bricks and lime plaster, without any pillar support, wooden beams or metal girders.

The paper is backed by a pink album page (not visible as cut to the same size) then has been laid down on a further album page backing.

Unsigned. Inscribed below in Persian characters.
There are some marks and age toning to the paper, mainly to the margins outside of the image. Slight wrinkling to the paper where it is glued to the backing paper. Please see photos for detail.
9.3cm x 13.8cm.

This painting, which came from a 19th-century British album, is a fine example of an Indian Company miniature painting, produced for Western patrons in India in the 19th century, many of whom were working for the East India Company. It displays the striking hybrid techniques which led to the categorisation of the ‘Company’ style as a School. As an objective architectural elevation it uniquely combines scientific European rationalism with the attention to detail and intense colouring of the Mughal miniature tradition. This painting is one of a pair that we have for sale, the other miniature showing Moti Masjid Pearl Mosque at Agra Fort (see stock code: JM-752).

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Product code: JM-751

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