Nobleman and Lady on a Terrace before a Lake

Punjab Hills, Guler
circa 1810-20
Opaque watercolor and gold on paper

Folio: 9 1/8 by 6 ¾ in. (23.2 by 17.1 cm)
Image: 8 3/8 by 6 in. (21.3 by 15.2 cm)

A couple, engaged in animated conversation, sits on a white stone terrace at the fore of the painting. Despite the lady’s attempts to convince her lover not to leave, he appears unswayed, his right hand held up in a dismissive yet reassuring gesture. Their bright garments contrast against the cool gray river, which meanders through the scene, spilling over a waterfall, and flowing in a broad expanse before them. With sword and shield in hand, the man, clearly of noble status, is bedecked in sumptuous robes and an ornate turban. Indicative of the season, an extra cloak is thrown around his shoulders. His counterpart, too, is adorned in a manner befitting the upper caste. Although sparsely populated, the receding landscape is dotted with a small procession of figures crossing the bridge between town and fortress, and a flock of birds grazing on the rocky hills before they fly off.

Overall, the cool palette, departing fowl, and restrained foliage suggest the coming of cool weather months. Compositionally, the format calls to mind Baramasa imagery; a similar painting from a Kangra Baramasa series portrays the month of Margasirsha or November-December, a time during which the skies are clear, swans migrate to the plains, and lovers do not go from home. The couple’s facial features resemble those in another circa 1810 Guler painting of lovers admiring the rain clouds.