The city of Lucknow was embellished with many grand buildings early in the reign of Shuja-ud-Daulah, Nawab of Oudh (1753-75), before he moved his capital to Faizabad. His successor Asaf-ud-Daulah (1775-97), moved the capital back to Lucknow and began a new programme of building. It was at this stage that the Daniells visited the city. Returning from their tour in the Himalayan foothills, they spent the whole monsoon period of 1789 there, from early July until mid October staying with General Claud Martin, the French adventurer who was in the service of the Nawab.
The Daniells planned a set of aquatints of the city hoping to win the patronage of the Nawab, he having previously seen their drawings of Calcutta, but when they presented their drawings to him he was not willing to give any commission. The present watercolour was probably executed in preparation for this proposed series.