Pen and Ink with watercolor and gum arabic, heightened with touches of white, with gum arabic
18 ½ x 11 ¼ sheet; 29 x 21 ½ inches framed.
Inscribed in Urdu: 'Purple shouldered Pigeon. for. B.C.' (lower center)
Provenance: Major General Claude Martin (1735-1800); Niall Hobhouse Collection Sale, Christie’s May 22, 2008.
The Lucknow School was established at the twilight era of the Mughal Empire in the vibrant, multi-ethnic city of Lucknow. This school of natural history painting evolved out of a number of artistic traditions, but most importantly it can be seen as an offshoot of Mughal miniature painting. Miniaturists in North India had been depicting birds as the main subject of paintings for centuries. With the advent of large scale colonization, local artists began to apply their skills to commission from Western patrons. Typically, this involved adapting their styles to fit a new set of demands: they began increasing the format, realism, and quantity of their works.
The elegance and sophistication of the Lucknow School is showcased in the present portrait of a Yellow-Footed Green Pigeon. With its lush and exquisitely rendered textures and delicate, jewel-like colors, this work offers a rich fusion of the artistic realism of the West and the lyricism and expressivity of Indo-Islamic culture.
The Yellow-footed Green Pigeon is found in the scrublands, forests, and cultivated area near towns and villages of southern Asia, from Pakistan and India through Indochina. It is the state bird of Maharashtra in the Western region of India. This species forage in flocks and feeds on fruit. They are often seen sunbathing atop high trees at dawn, and like to perch in pairs.
The most prominent collector of ornithological paintings in Lucknow was Major General Claude Martin (1735-1800). A true Renaissance man, Martin held many titles in his life; a soldier, an architect and builder, a collector and connoisseur, a businessman, a balloonist, a gunsmith, and an educator. His exploits have been documented in numerous books and biographies. His collection of ornithological paintings far surpasses any of his contemporaries.
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