Raja Ravi Varma is considered one of the most prominent artists in the history of Indian Art. One of the clearest examples of the blending of academic European art with entirely Indian perception and symbolism is seen in his paintings. He was born in Thiruvananthapuram on April 29, 1848. In 1862, the young prodigy Ravi Varma and his uncle Rajaraja Varma travelled to Thiruvananthapuram to see AyilyamThirunal Maharaja who told him to continue his painting studies in Thiruvananthapuram. Ravi Varma was able to acquire the painting techniques and styles of Tamil Nadu painters who were among the courtiers as well as study the paintings in the palace that was created in the Italian Renaissance style. Ravi Varma showed the royal family members and the Maharaja in the new style of painting. His popularity increased after his painting “Mullappoo Choodiya Nair Sthree” won first place in an art competition held in Chennai in 1873. In another exhibition held in Vienna, Austria, this painting was awarded first place.
Sir T. Madhava Rao, the Diwan of Travancore, was a person that Ravi Varma knew. As the Maharaja of Vadodara’s advisor, Madhava Rao was in charge of various state-related activities. He purchased some Ravi Varma paintings in Thiruvananthapuram in 1880 to bring back to Baroda. That marked the start of the royal family of Baroda’s significant influence on moulding Ravi Varma’s creative career in the coming years. The Baroda royal family still owns the greatest private collection of paintings by Ravi Varma. When Sayajirao Gaekwad has crowned the Maharaja of Baroda in 1881, Ravi Varma was invited to take part in the festivities. His depiction of Hindu deities and works from Puranas and Indian epic poetry were widely acclaimed.
He was invited by the Maharaja of Mysore, Chamarajendra Wodeyar, in 1885, and asked to create several paintings. He also did a lot of exploring in North India. At a global exhibition held in Chicago, Illinois, in 1893, ten of his paintings were displayed. Raja Ravi Varma wanted to reproduce his paintings and make them widely available at a reasonable price after he earned a considerable reputation as a painter throughout India. His choice to connect the practice of painting with contemporary technology signalled the start of a brand-new era in Indian painting history. He founded a colour oleographic press in Mumbai in 1894, when he began printing inexpensive replicas of his artwork.
The British government and the Indian Maharajas were both keen to commission Ravi Varma to paint for them. He was invited to Udaipur, Rajasthan, by the Maharaja to paint the likenesses of his ancestors. A masterpiece among these is the portrait of Maharana Prathap. Ravi Varma was tasked with creating the picture of Arthur Havelock, the British governor in office, in 1904. The British government awarded him the honorary title of “Kesar – i- Hind” in the same year. It was the first time an artist had ever received such a prestigious award.
Sri Krishna as Envoy, Pleasing, Expectation, The Milkmaid, The Suckling Child, The Portrait of a Lady, Stolen Interview, Disappointed, Woman Holding a Fruit, Shakuntala, The Maharashtrian Lady, Yashoda With Krishna, Jatayu Vadha, Harischandra in Distress, Sri Rama Vanquishing the Sea, Galaxy of Musicians, There Comes Papa, Lady in the Moon Light, Mother and Child, Sri Krishna Liberating His Parents – are amongst his most notable works. He is notably the one who has given face to our Gods.