Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Raja Ravi Varma- A Prince among Painters and A Painter among Princes

Raja Ravi Varma (1848-1906) was born in Kilimanoor Palace as the son of Umamba Thampuratti and Ezhumavil Neelakandan Bhattathiripad. At the age of seven years he started drawing on the palace walls using charcoal. His uncle Raja Raja Varma noticed the talent of the child and gave preliminary lessons on painting. At the age of 14, Ayilyam Thirunal Maharaja took him to Travancore Palace and he was taught water painting by the palace painter Rama Swamy Naidu. After 3 years Theodor Jenson, a British painter taught him oil painting.
Most of his oil paintings are based on Hindu epic stories and characters. In 1873 he won the First Prize at the Madras Painting Exhibition. He became a world famous Indian painter after winning in 1873 Vienna Exhibition.
Many of his oil paintings are classic and his unique Indian style has later influenced artists and designers worldwide.Some of his original paintings are available as oleographs. Some of the most famous oleographs of Raja Ravi Varma.

Goddess Saraswathi

Hamsa Damyanthi

Goddess Lakshmi

Shakunthala writing a letter

Keechaka and Sairandhri

Damayanthi Vanavas

Ganga Vatram

Shantanu and Matsyagandhi

Vishwamitra and Menaka


Usha's Dream

Hamsa Damayanthi



Urvashi and Purooravas

Lady Giving Alms

Shivaji Maharaj

Radha and Sakhi

Birth of Sakunthala

Sakunthala and Sakhis

All photos and text courtesy http://www.cyberkerala.com


  1. super cool post!!...:)I hope to buy one of his vintage oleographs some day!! :)

  2. Thanks for the lovely post Lakshmi.
    His paintings are such a beauty. It feels like the characters are truly there infront of you !

  3. Thanks for the lovely post!!!!! just loved it..


  4. Thanks sudha,anupama and Meghana for your lovely comments.

  5. Wow, that's quite a compilation. I've admired his work and always wanted to create a more traditional nook in my home where his work would fit in.

  6. I've been collecting 19th & early 20th century Indian Hindu God lithographs for many years and I'm always amazed that Indian collectors just focus on Ravi Varma, as artist who painted in a European style. For me the prints from Calcutta Art Studio, Chore Bagan Art Studio (earlier than Ravi Varma Press prnts)and from S.S. Brijbasi & Sons (from the 1930's-50's) are so much more interesting. There is a very beautiful show right now in the US at the Davis Museum, Wellesley College, called Seein God In Prints, with Indian prints from the 1880's to early 1940's, up until June 6, 2010.

  7. Hi
    This is mahesh
    Need to buy a print of shivaji maharaj oleography(by raja ravi verma) size 18" height please let me know if u have


  8. Great paintings....I like thies..so much..

  9. Raja Ravi Varma, Most Popular Oil painting artist in india. Reach this art gallery in Kozhikode.


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