Raja Ravi Varma was among the earliest Indian artists to effectively master the Western academic art traditions. His subjects have often been as representative of the country and its culture, making him a seminal figure in the Indian art movement of the times. His subjects gave an identity to India as he portrayed people from different walks of life, caste and creed no bar.
Known as ‘The Father of Modern Indian Art’, Verma successfully integrated the same into the Indian milieu, bringing about a revolutionary transformation in the native artistic experience He was an Indian painter of the 18th century who attained fame and recognition for portraying scenes from the epics of the Mahabharata and Ramayana. Besides playing with the intricacies of light and dark, he was notable for making affordable copies (lithographs) of his paintings available to the public.
Raja Ravi Varma was born on April 29, 1848 to Umamba Thampuratti and Neelakandan Bhattathiripad in the royal palace of Kilimanoor, Travancore.
The inborn talent of the painter started showing at a very tender age. At the age of 7, Raja Ravi Varma unveiled his painting skills on the walls of the Kilimanoor palace with the help of charcoal.
In 1892 he create a series of mythological paintings that were Indian in their essence. Varma traveled all over India, from his native state of Travancore to Lahore, diligently sketching what he saw.
He won the Vienna Art Exhibition in the west on 1873. Four movies have been documented based on Ravi Varma’s life tenure.
Varma’s paintings were also sent to the World’s Columbian Exposition held in Chicago in 1893 and he was awarded three gold medals.
It is interesting to know that the most expensive saree in the world is an 8-kg sari priced at Rs 40 lakh that pays tribute to his paintings. Named as ‘Vivah Patu’, the saree is flanked by 11 paintings by Raja Ravi Varma and is designed by the director of Chennai Silks, Sivalingam.