India; Lucknow School
Watercolor on paper; 8 5/8 x 11 1/8 in. (21.9 x 28.3 cm)
Louis E. and Theresa S. Seley Purchase Fund for Islamic Art, 2004 (2004.175)
The classic works of the Company School of painting were studies of plant and animal life, of which this depiction of the nightjar bird is one. The bird is executed with great attention to detailindividual feathers have been outlined and painted with subtle gradations of color, and several shades of brown and black are used to delineate its body markings. The eye has a bright ring around it and the legs are textured with parallel line markings. The landscape in which the bird stands is only sparingly indicated, and is in a smaller scale than the animal. This feature is common in Company School paintings of this kind, as the main purpose of the painting was to record species new to British observers. The painting comes from an album made for Claud Martin (17351800), the French soldier and patron of the arts who settled in Lucknow in the eighteenth century.