Explained: How Raja Ravi Varma, an artist of the royals, took his art to the masses

by AryanArtnews
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Raja Ravivarma, often referred to as the father of contemporary Indian art, is widely known for his realistic depictions of Indian gods and goddesses. He painted mainly for royalty, but is also known for his prints and oleographs that brought art to the masses. On April 6th, one of his important paintings, Draupadi Vastraharan, will be placed under the hammer for the first time. Estimated to fetch between Rs15 and Rs20 Chlore, this canvas represents Draupadi’s undressing in the Mahabharata scene. Let’s look at what helped shape Varma’s art and how he ultimately brought it to the masses.

Formative and impact

Raja Ravi Varma was born in April 1848 in Kirimanor, Kerala, to a family very close to the Travancore royal family. When he was young, he painted animals and everyday landscapes on his walls in indigenous colors using natural materials such as leaves, flowers and soil. His uncle, Raja Rajabalma, noticed this and encouraged his talent. He was sponsored by the then ruler of Travancore, Iriyam Tirnar, who studied watercolor painting from the royal painter Lamaswamy Naidu and later trained in oil painting from the Dutch artist Theodor Jensen.

How he became a royal artist

Varma became a very popular artist for the aristocrats and was commissioned for several portraits in the late 19th century. Perhaps at some point he was so popular that the Kirimanor Palace in Kerala opened a post office for the enormous number of painting requests that came for him. He traveled extensively throughout India for his work and inspiration.

Following the portrait of Maharajasaya Jirao in Baroda, he was commissioned to paint 14 prana paintings at the Durbar Hall in Baroda’s new Lakshmi Villath Palace. Varma, who painted Indian culture, borrowed the same from the episodes of Mahabharata and Ramayana. He was also sponsored by many other rulers, including Maharajas in Mysore and Maharajas in Udaipur.

As his popularity soared, the artist won the award for his painting exhibition in Vienna in 1873. He also won three gold medals at the Chicago World’s Fair, which he held in Chicago in 1893.

Who was his main character?

Believed to have painted more than 7,000 paintings before his death in 1906 at the age of 58, Varma combined European realism with Indian sensibility. His inspiration came from a variety of sources, from Indian literature to dance dramas, while he traveled to find the subject and portrayed Indian royalty and aristocrats. Many of his famous arts also borrow heavily from Indian mythology. In fact, he is often believed to have defined the image of Indian gods and goddesses through his relevant, more realistic depictions of humans as models. Depictions include Lakshmi as the goddess of wealth, Saraswati as the goddess of knowledge and wisdom, and Sir Vishnu with his companions Maya and Lakshmi.

How he brought Indian art to the masses

Raja Ravi Varma aspired to bring his art to the masses, with the intention of opening a lithograph press in Bombay in 1894. He pointed out to Varma that it was impossible to meet the great demand for his work, so it would be ideal to send some of his carefully selected works to Europe and have them produced as oleographs. Did. Instead, Balma chose to set up his own printing press. The first photo printed by the Balma press reportedly was the birth of Shakuntala, followed by many mythical figures and saints such as Adi Shankara Charya.

In 1901, Ravi Varma sold the printing press to the German lithographer Fritz Schleicher. Fritz Schleicher continued to make lithographers. In fact, printmaking continues to be popular today, and Balma’s style is the inspiration for the artist who painted the popular cartoon series Amart Trakata.

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