My favorite Raja Ravi Varma Paintings & Prints

Raja Ravi Varma was an Indian painter and artist whose works are one of the best examples of the fusion of European academic art with Indian asthetics. He is considered to be the father of modern Indian art, and his paintings are known for their portrayal of Indian mythology and everyday life. I have always been enamoured by his painting style and colors and loved looking at the Ravi Varma print of Sarawati in our grandparents pooja room.

Beautiful paintings by Ravi Varma
Tara Devi by Ravi Varma

Raja Ravi Varma is one of the most renowned Indian painters of the 19th century and he gave form to many goddess and mythical figures. He was born in 1848 in Killimanoor Village, twenty four miles from the town of Kottayam in Travancore State. In 1866, he married the youngest sister of Maharaja of Travancore. Ravi Varma had the chance to observe the working technique of Theodore Jensen, a Danish born British artist, who visited Travancore in 1869. 

The painting above is Tara Devi who is described as a tantric deity popular in India, China, Tibet and Mongolia. The word ‘Tara’ means one who ferries a across the ocean of suffering. Tara Devi is also the wife of Vali, the powerful warlord in the Ramayan. We not sure which Tara was painted by Ravi Varma but regardless isn’t it beautiful!

This portrait of the Rani of Kurupam is one of my favorite painting. It was commissioned by the Raja of Kurupam who was heartborken after the death of his young wife. It is held in a private collection but thanks to Google Arts & Culture we can still enjoy it!

Raja Ravi Varma: A Cultural Revolution

While we didn’t make it any of the art museums during this trip to India, we chanced upon a lovely gallery in leafy enclave in Chennai displaying a collection of the Ravi Varma’s prints.

This exhibition Raja Ravi Varma: A Cultural Revolution was held at Apparao Galleries to celebrate the legacy of Raja Ravi Varma. The exhibition had a comprehensive display consisting of around 125 chromolithographs derived from Raja Ravi Varma’s paintings.

Where can you find original Ravi Varma Paintings & Prints

Looking to see the art in person, Ravi Varma’s paintings of “Sakuntala“, “The Miser“, “Lady with the Mirror“, “Yasodha” and “Krishna” are on display in a gallery at the Musuem in Chennai.

Many of Ravi Varma’s original painitngs can be found Kowdiar Palace, Thiruvananthapuram, which is the official residence of the Travancore Royal Family. Sree Chitra Art Gallery, an art gallery in Thiruvananthapuram, India, located in the northern grounds of the Napier Museum houses some of his art works. National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi houses a few Ravi Varma works like the famous Woman holding a fruit & Portrait of a Lady.

A few of Ravi Varma’s painting can be found in Jaganmohan Palace, Mysore in Karnataka. We saw one at the Mysore Palace where we stopped on our way back from our Tiger Safari in Kabini.

Painting of Edward VII and the a Painting of Mysore Maharaja’s children by Ravi Varma at Mysore Palace. Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV is seen with his sisters Jayalakshamanni and Krishnarajamanni.

Ravi Varma Press for Fine Art Lithographs

While it is not possible to buy one an original Ravi Varma painting, you can try to find a print, an original one by the Ravi Varma Press. The artist painted several copies of his works and this demand led his paintings printed in the form of oleographs. The Ravi Varma Fine Art Lithographic Press was established in Bombay in 1894.

Many of Ravi Varma’s paintings were printed as chromolithographs at this Press. These chromolithographs has a tremendous impact on religion, society and how many mythlogical charaters are remember by the Indian diaspora. This also democratized his art leading to immortalizing Ravi Varma in the minds of the people of the Indian subcontinent.

The first chromolithograph from the Press, the Birth of Shakuntala was launched on July 12,1894. In September of the same year, the Press issued prints of Lakshmi and Saraswati which were immensely popular among the Hindus.

Goddess Sarawathi by Ravi Varma
Goddess Sarawathi by Ravi Varma

His painting of Sarawathi personifies the goddess of education of many of us, where Saraswati is found in a white sari, playing the Veena with two arms and holding an aksha-mala (a string of pearls) and a book in the other hands.

12 of the most famous & my favorite Ravi Varma Paintings

The Maharashtrian Lady is a popular painting by Raja Ravi Varma. This painting depicts a woman who is traditionally dressed as a lady of Maharashtra. This painting can be viewed at Kowdiar Palace, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. You probaby have seen this one! A lithograph titled ‘Madri’ is based on this original oil painting by Ravi Varma. He captures the fine details of her jewelry, sari and her beautiful expression.

A popular painting by Raja Ravi Varma
The Maharashtrian Lady, an iconic painting by Ravi Varma

Another beautiful painting by Raja Ravi Varma is Parsi Beauty, show how he captures the beauty and grace of women from different communities. Ravi Varma was known for his paintings of Indian women from various communities and regions, such as Nair women from Kerala, Maharashtra and more.

Expectation by Raja Ravi Varma
Expectation by Raja Ravi Varma

Expectation by Raja Ravi Varma depicts a portrait of an Indian Lady whose identity is still unknown. This painting can be viewed at Kowdiar Palace, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. The Indian aesthetic tradition, enumerates Astha Nayikas, the eight states of mind of a woman in love. Ravi Varma is famous for capture the various emotions of women and in this painting shows her waiting for her lover to arrive.

Woman Holding a Fruit is a painting produced by Raja Ravi Varma. This painting depicts a lady holding a fruit. This painting can be viewed at National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi.

The Portrait of a Lady is a painting by Raja Ravi Varma. It depicts a portrait of a lady in her finery is considered as one of the most famous paintings by Raja Ravi Varma. This painting can be viewed at National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi.

Savitri is another painting by the Indian artist Raja Ravi Varma that depicts a scene from Indian mythology. The painting shows the story of Savitri, the daughter of King Ashwapati and his queen Malati, who met and fell in love with Satyavan, a prince who had lost his kingdom and was living as a woodsman in the forest with his father.

The painting captures the moment when Savitri, who had undertaken a fast, argued and dissuaded Yama, the god of death, from taking Satyavan’s life. It depicts Savitri in a powerful and determined stance, with Satyavan sitting on her lap. Yama is seen as an ethereal character in the foreground, emphasizing the transcendental nature of the scene.

Shakuntala by Ravi Varma

Shakuntala is considered one of Raja Ravi Varma most famous works. The painting depicts the scene from the Indian epic Mahabharata where Shakuntala, a beautiful woman, is shown receiving a letter from her lover, King Dushyanta.

Damayanti Painting by Raja Ravi Varma
Damayanti by Ravi Varma

Hamsa Damayanti an oil painting on canvas by Raja Ravi Varma, created in 1899 depicts the story of Damayanti and King Nala from the Sanskrit epic, Nala and Damayanti. The harmonious painting is considered one of Raja Ravi Varma’s most famous painting, known for its realistic portrayal of the characters, its ability to convey the emotions of the scene.

According to the story, Damayanti and King Nala fall in love with each other after hearing about their respective noble traits, intelligence and beauty. Using a golden swan as a messenger, they exchange messages. Doesn’t Damayanti’s expression show so much love of someone that is missing her lover?

Yashoda With Krishna by Raja Ravi Varma
Yashoda With Krishna

Yashoda With Krishna painting by Raja Ravi Varma shows Sri Krishna as a young child with her foster mother Yesoda. This painting can be viewed at Kowdiar Palace, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.

Stolen Interview is a painting produced by Raja Ravi Varma. This painting represents lovers standing beside a pillar. The women holds a rose and plucks petals while the man rests the cheek on his left hand anxiously looking towards her, a classic paintings depicting a boy meeting a girl. This painting can be viewed at Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh.

There Comes Papa by Raja Ravi Varma
There Comes Papa, a painting of the artist’s daughter

There Comes Papa is a painting produced around 1893 by Raja Ravi Varma. This Famous painting by Raja Ravi Verma depicts his daughter who is holding her daughter. This painting can be viewed at Kowdiar Palace, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. I love the how he paints the white and gold of the tradtional Kerala saree here

Mother and Child is a painting produced by Raja Ravi Varma. This painting shows the affection of mother towards her child. This painting can be viewed at Kowdiar Palace, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.

The Milkmaid was painted by Raja Ravi Varma in 1904. This painting depicts a village girl who is carrying milk to her home. This painting can be viewed at Sri Chitra Art Gallery, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.

I hope you enjoyed these glimpses of Ravi Varma Paintings & Prints.

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