Raja Ravi Varma

Indian painter from Kerala (1848–1906)

Raja Ravi Varma (29 April 18482 October 1906) from the princely state of Travancore (presently in Kerala). He was widely acclaimed following his winning an award for an exhibition of his paintings at Vienna in 1873. Though his style of painting was described as too showy and sentimental, his paintings are widely popular in India. A large number of his lovely paintings are in the Laxmi Vilas Palace of Vadodara. He has been hailed as one of the “greatest painters in the history of Indian art. His paintings achieved recognition for his depiction of scenes from the epics of the Mahabharata and Ramayana.

Raja Ravi Varma


  • Who knows if these very pictures, now painted for maharajas, will not find their way to the museums one day.

Quotes about Varma

Hamsa Damyanti Painting by Raja Ravi Varma.
  • She quoted HamsDamyanti. According to her it is this painting that Ravi Varma reached the pinnacle of his art in depicting [[w:Maharashtra people}Maharashtrian]] Beauty. Ravi Varma’s talent lay in the mixing of colours and the effect he got when he painted drapery, jewelry and royal clothes. Uma mentions two other paintings of Rani Lakshmibai and princess Tarabai- both of which show Ravi Varma’s remarkable talent in portraiture. She also made a special reference to the painting of Krishna and mother displayed in Mysore Palace. Uma Varma believes Ravi Varma’s unique talent lay in the fact that no one has yet been able to make an exact replica of hi paintings. She has seen many European Masters copied perfectly but both Uma varma and her daughter Radhika say that they are yet to see painting, which could be an exact copy of Ravi Varma’s paintings.
  • The more I saw, the more I admired the Master's genius — his uncanny ability, through the magic of his brush to depict mood, emotion and atmosphere and to encapsulate the whole story in the selected scene. I felt even then that a state of the art folio on his works needed to be brought out. Only, I never imagined that it was I who would eventually be doing it.
  • Ravi Varma is not only among India's greatest artists, but also a great patriot. His depiction of the beauty of the Indian woman is unequalled in Indian art....When the art gallery of Mysore was under renovation, I got an opportunity to photograph them and my joy knew no bounds! Over the years I got to see many a fine-print reproductions of Ravi Varma's paintings and have tried to photograph the expression of his subjects.
  • He has become an Indian Kilroy. No matter where you look - whether in a book on the history of Indian art or one on advertising and printing in India or even something like popular taste and the making of the Indian national ethos - Raja Ravi Varma is there.



Ravi Varma. Encyclopaedia Brittanica. Retrieved on 26 November 2013.

  • Varma was the first Indian to use Western techniques of perspective and composition and to adapt them to Indian subjects, styles, and themes. He won the Governor’s Gold Medal in 1873 for the painting Nair Lady Adorning Her Hair. He became a much-sought-after artist among both the Indian nobility and the Europeans in India, who commissioned him to paint their portraits.
  • His depictions of Indian women drew such appreciation that a beautiful woman would often be described as looking “as if she had stepped out of a Varma canvas.”
  • Varma adapted Western realism to pioneer a new movement in Indian art. In 1894 he set up a lithographic press in order to mass-produce copies of his paintings as oleographs, enabling ordinary people to afford them. That innovation resulted in the tremendous popularity of his images, which became an integral part of popular Indian culture thereafter.
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