Firework display on a bright moonlit night outside the Agna Mahal, part of the Nawab's palace beside the river at Murshidabad
Watercolour of a firework display on a bright moonlit night outside the Agna Mahal in Murshidabad, by an anonymous artist working in the Murshidabad style, c. 1790-1800. Inscribed on back in pencil: 'The Agnah Mahal Moorshedd'; in ink 'Display of Fireworks before the Agnah Mahal at Morshedabad.'
Murshidabad is situated on the banks of the Bhagirathi River, north of Calcutta in West Bengal. In 1704, the Nawab of Bengal transferred his capital here from Dacca; in 1757 a series of military disputes between the Nawab and the English East India Company resulted in the rise of English supremacy in Bengal. Although the town of Murshidabad continued to house the residence of the Nawab, it was no longer a place of political power. This drawing shows the festivities along the riverside with the gateway leading to the Chandni Chowk and Munny Begum's mosque in the background. Men are letting off fireworks in the foreground, on the west bank of the river. The Agna Mahal was part of the Nawab's palace, the Hazarduari (Palace of a Thousand Doors) built in the 1830s by General Duncan McLeod of the Bengal Engineers.