(Last Updated on : 03/07/2017)
Raja Ravi Varma was an Indian Painter
brought a momentous turn in Indian art
. His works on great Indian epics Ramayana
brought the omnipresent Gods
to the surroundings of earthy world. This showed excellent fusion of Indian traditional art with European realism. These paintings influenced future generation artists and also influenced literature
. His representation of mythological
characters has become a part of the Indian imagination of the classics. His style is criticized for being too gaudy and sentimental. His works are the best examples for the combination of European techniques with Indian receptivity. According to the Guinness World Records, the most high-priced saree
in the world is an 8-kg saree priced at Rs 40 lakh that pays honour to his paintings.
Early life of Raja Ravi Varma
Raja Ravi Varma was born on April 29th, 1848 in Kilimanoor Palace
. Raja Ravi Varma was brought up in an environment of art and culture
. At the age of seven he started painting the figures of animals
, acts and scenes from daily life on the wall with charcoal. Raja Ravi Varma's uncle Raja Varma started giving lessons of paintings to little Ravi seeing his keen interest for art.
When Raja Ravi Varma was around 14 years of age, he was sent to Thiruvananthapuram
to stay at the Moodath Madam house of the Kilimanoor Palace, where he was taught water painting by the palace painter Rama Swamy Naidu. After three years, Theodor Jenson, a British painter taught him oil painting. He was exposed to the famous paintings of Italian painters. Here he was using indigenous paints made from leaves, flowers
Career of Raja Ravi Varma
It was at Kilimanoor Palace where his talent was promoted and nurtured by Ayilyam Thirunal at the age of 7. He selected the original paints made from leaves, flowers, tree
bark and soil
in its place of using the conventional paints. Ramaswamy Naicker who was a famous oil painter of that time, had declined to teach Ravi Varma the art of oil painting
. He painted a number of portraits of significant Indian aristocracy and British
officials from 1870 to 1878 and added much status for himself as a portrait painter.
Year 1873 marked the beginning of a flourishing era in the career of Raja Ravi Varma and he won the first prize at the Madras Painting exhibition. The British commissioner Edgar Thurston was an important person who promoted the career of Raja Ravi Varma. Raja Ravi Varma had received well-known applause after he won an award for an exhibition of his paintings at Vienna in 1873 and his paintings were also sent to the World's Columbian Exposition held in Chicago in 1893 and he was awarded three gold
He travelled all over India in search of subjects. He often replicated Hindu Goddesses
on South Indian women
, whom he considered gorgeous. Ravi Varma is chiefly famous for his paintings portraying episodes from the story of Dushyanta
, and Nala and Damayanti
, from the Mahabharata. Ravi Varma's depiction of mythological characters has become a part of the Indian thoughts of the epics. Many of his fabulous paintings are housed at Laxmi Vilas Palace
Awards and Achievements of Raja Ravi Varma
Raja Ravi Varma won a number of awards and these are as follows:
In 1873 at the starting of his career, he won an award in Vienna where his paintings were exhibited.
At the Worlds Columbian Exposition in 1893, he was imparted three gold medals for his work of art.
In 1904, on behalf of the Emperor, Viceroy Lord Curzon awarded him with the Kaisar-i-Hind Gold Medal.
Several schools, colleges, institutions and cultural institutes have been named after him, such as Raja Ravi Varma High School at Kilimanoor, a college contributed to fine arts in Mavelikara, Kerala and so on.
A crater on Mercury was named in the honour of this superior Indian painter in 2013.
In view of his immense input to Indian art, the Government of Kerala has set up an award called "Raja Ravi Varma Puraskaram" in the field of art.
Notable Works of Raja Ravi Varma
Given below are the famous works of Raja Ravi Varma:
A Family of Beggars
A Lady Playing Swarbat
Arjuna and Subhadra
Damayanti Talking to a Swan
Draupadi Dreading to Meet Kichaka
Girl in Sage Kanwa's Hermitage (Rishi-Kanya)
Jatayu (a bird devotee of Lord Rama is mauled by Rawana)
Lady Giving Alms at the Temple
Lady Lost in Thought
Lady with Fruit
Lady with lamp
Lord Krishna as Ambassador
Lord Rama Conquers Varuna
Shakuntala Composing a Love Letter to King Dushyanta
Shantanu and Matsyagandha
Victory of Indrajit
Personal Life and death of Raja Ravi Varma
He married Pururuttathi Nal Bhageerathi and had five children. He died on October 5, 1906 in the village of Kilimanoor in Travancore. He was 58 at the moment of his death