Raja Ravi Varma, known for his Oil Paintings, was a renowned Indian Painter. Most of his paintings were epics from Mahabharata and Ramayana.
Raja Ravi Varma was born on April 29, 1848, at Kilimanoor Palace, near Trivandrum, Kerala, to an aristocratic family. Sensing his interest in painting at an early age, he was encouraged to paint by his Uncle Raja Raja Varma, a known painter himself. Raja Ravi Varma trained in the traditional art of Thanjavoor and European art from some of the known painters. He got married at a very early age and had five children. He died at the age of 58.
Paintings of Raja Ravi Varma are classified in Portraits, Portrait-based Compositions and Theatrical compositions based on myths and legends. His paintings of Theatrical compositions were the most famous ones. A lot of his paintings of Hindu Goddesses were based on South Indian women. His paintings based on stories of Dushyanta & Shakuntala and Nala & Damayanti were among his most popular paintings.
Raja Ravi Varma was not only popular in India but was equally famous internationally. His paintings were part of various international exhibitions. Some of his most famous paintings are Lady Lost in Thought, Damayanti Talking to a Swan, The Orchestra, Arjuna and Subhadra, Lady with Fruit, The Heartbroken, Swarbat Player, Shakuntala, Lord Krishna as Ambassador, and much more.
For the first time, his paintings gave faces to Gods & Goddesses. To make his paintings available to the common man who liked his paintings but couldn’t afford due to the high price, he set up a Printing press to print copies of his paintings. He was often criticized for his nude paintings of mythological characters.
Raja Ravi Varma won numerous awards. In 1873, when his career had just started, he won the first award in Vienna where his paintings were exhibited. In 1893, at the World’s Columbian Exposition he won three gold medals. In 1904, he won Kaiser-i-Hind Gold Medal on behalf of the King Emperor, Viceroy Lord Curzon. Several schools and colleges have been named after him. In 2013 a crater on Mercury was named in his honor. The government of Kerala also instituted an award in his name “Raja Ravi Varma Puraskaram” which is given to individuals showing considerable promise in the field of art and culture.
All his paintings are like prized possessions for their owners.