Many Europeans visited or lived in India in the late eighteenth century owing to the mercantile activities of the various East India Companies. They were enticed to the prosperous cities of Faizabad and Lucknow, where they served the court in military or advisory capacities, or set up lucrative businesses. These expatriates enjoyed a lively social life and mingled with the court at elephant fights, cock matches, dinner parties, fireworks displays, musical performances, and other entertainments.
A remarkable degree of exchange and assimilation occurred between Indian and European elites in the region during the late eighteenth century. Some European residents partially adopted the lifestyles and manners of Indian nobility. They spoke the Persian language of the court, dressed in Indian clothing, maintained Indian estates, had Indian wives, and-through their patronage of Indian artists—helped to shape the development of Lucknow's distinctive visual aesthetic. In turn, Lucknow's rulers commissioned paintings from European artists, constructed European-style buildings, and collected European furnishings and inventions.
Image 1: Colonel Antoine-Louis Henri Polier Watching a Nautch, after a Painting by Johann Zoffany, India, Uttar Pradesh, Faizabad or Lucknow, c. 1786–88, Opaque watercolor on paper, Bequest of Balthasar Reinhart, Museum Rietberg, Zurich, 2005.83.
Image 2: Colonel Mordaunt's Cockfight, after a Painting by Johann Zoffany, India, Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow, c. 1800, Opaque watercolor on paper, 17 5/8 x 26 1/16 in., Harvard Art Museum/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, The Stuart Cary Welch Collection, Gift of Edith I. Welch in memory of Stuart Cary Welch, 2009.202.225.
Image 3: Portrait of John Wombwell in Indian Dress and Smoking a Huqqa, India, Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow, c. 1790, Opaque watercolor and gold on paper, 12 11/16 x 11 3/16 in., Fondation Custodia, Collection Frits Lugt, Paris, inv. no. 1970-T.36.
Image 4: The Ishqnamah of Wajid Ali Shah, India, Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow, dated 1849/50, (AH 1266), Illuminated manuscript; opaque watercolor, and gold on paper, Book 18 x 11 7/8 in., The Royal Collection, RCIN 1005035.
Image 5: Tilly Kettle (England, 1735–1786), Shuja al-Daula, Nawab of Awadh, Holding a Bow, India, Uttar Pradesh, Faizabad, 1772, Oil on canvas, 50 1/8 x 40 1/8 in., Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection, B1976.7.48.
Image 6: Attributed to Mihr Chand (fl. 1759–86), Nawab Shuja al-Daula, after a Portrait by Tilly Kettle, and Two Pictures of Beauties, Page from the Lady Coote Album, India, Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow, c. 1780, Ink, transparent and opaque watercolor, and gold on paper, Page 17 11/16 x 24 1/8 in., Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts Endowment Fund, 1922.214.171.124.