Raja Ravi Varma - Artists & Painters, Life Achievements and Childhood

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Raja Ravi Varma's Personal Details

Raja Ravi Varma was a renowned Indian painter who greatly influenced the future generations of Indian painters

InformationDetail
BirthdayApril 29, 1848
Died onOctober 5, 1906
NationalityIndian
FamousArtists & Painters, Artists
SpousesPururuttathi Nal Bhageerathi
SiblingsGoda Varma, Raja Varma and Mangala Bayi
Birth PlaceKilimanoor
GenderMale
FatherNeelakanthan Bhattatiripad
MotherUmamba Thampuratti
Sun SignTaurus
Born inKilimanoor
Famous asPainter
Died at Age58

// Famous Artists

Raja Ravi Varma's photo

Who is Raja Ravi Varma?

Raja Ravi Varma was a renowned Indian painter who greatly influenced the future generations of Indian painters. Coming from a naturally blessed family of creative folks, pursuing a career in arts was not an aberration for young Varma who was encouraged by his uncle Raja Raja Varma to make a career out of painting. Trained by several professional artists, he finally emerged as a classic Indian painter who excelled in depicting scenes from Indian literature and epics such as Mahabharata and Ramayana. What gave him the edge over other painters of his generation was that he fused Indian tradition with European technique thus coming up with a new genre of painting in India. He brought out on canvas several folk and traditional art forms of India. At a time when India was looking for inspiration to free itself from British rule, his dazzling oil paintings of India’s glorious past became highly popular In his career, his works were exhibited in major exhibitions across the globe for which he received numerous awards.

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Childhood & Early Life

Raja Ravi Varma was born to Umamba Thampuratti and Neelakanthan Bhattatiripad on April 29, 1848, in the princely state of Kilimanoor, in Kerala. While his mother was a poet and a writer by profession, his father was a scholar. He had three siblings, Goda Varma, Raja Varma and Mangala Bayi.

Coming from a family of creative personnel comprising of scholars, poets and painters, it was only natural for young Varma to be blessed with artistic ingenuity.

At the young age of seven, he started showing signs of taking the artistic route. Whatever he came across in his day to day living, such as pictures of animals, everyday acts and scenes, later adorned the walls of his home, reflecting his creativity and artistic sense.

While his family abhorred this behaviour of young Varma, it was his uncle, Raja Raja Varma, a Tanjore artist, who realized his true potential and calling. He resolved to tap the creative ingenuity of the young boy to make him a proficient artist.

With the help of his uncle and the ruling king, Ayilyam Thirunal, he received training and education in arts. His uncle also gave him his first ever drawing lesson.

At the age of 14, he moved to Thiruvananthapuram, where he received training in water painting by the palace painter, Rama Swamy Naidu.

Later Life

In Thiruvananthapuram, he stayed at the Moodath Madam house of the Kilimanoor Palace. It was at Kilimanoor Palace that his talent was encouraged and reared by Ayilyam Thirunal, who alternatively exposed the former to the famous paintings of Italian painters and Western artists.

All through, instead of using the conventional paints, he opted for indigenous paints made from leaves, flowers, tree bark and soil. It was only after seeing an advertisement in a newspaper that he brought his first set of oil paints from Madras.

During those times, oil painting was a new medium and only one person, namely Ramaswamy Naicker of Madurai, had the knowledge of oil painting techniques, in Travacore. But he refused to teach Ravi Varma the art of oil painting as he saw him as his potential rival.

It was Arumugham Pillai, Naicker's student, who then took it upon himself to teach him the nuances of oil painting much against the wishes of his teacher. This knowledge was then supplemented by some more information from Dutch portrait artist Theodor Jenson who had come over to paint the portrait of Ayilyam Thirunal and his wife

It was through trial and error that he finally learned the nuances of oil painting by blending colors, mixing them in pliable medium and smoothly manoeuvring through the strokes, allowing time for the color to dry.

Interestingly, his painted portrait of the royal couple, Ayilyam Thirunal and his wife far excelled the one done by Dutch artist, thus reflecting his true spirit as an artist and his creative ingeniousness.

He did not restrict his creativity to the teachings of Dutch painter or tips by Arumugham Pillai and instead got influenced by a whole of other things including music of veteran singers, Kathakali dancers, and artistic interpretations of epics and manuscripts of ancient families.

From 1870 to 1878, he painted several portraits of important Indian aristocracy and British officials and gained much reputation for himself as a portrait painter. What gave him the edge over other painters was his sensitivity towards the subject and the finesse with which he executed the subject.

Year 1873 marked the beginning of a prosperous era in the career of this proficient painter who won the first prize at the Madras Painting exhibition. This was just the beginning, as the same year he won the coveted first prize in Vienna exhibition thereby becoming a world famous Indian painter.

His popularity soared so high that his paintings were sent to World's Columbian Exposition held in Chicago in 1893

Most of his paintings include pictures of mythological characters from the epics and tales from religious texts and manuscripts. His early works depicted the basic elements of Tanjore painting, which essentially comprises of demonstrating the feminine emotion on canvas.

In his career, he did not restrict his paintings to a single subject or two and instead roamed throughout India in search of topics that would interest him. While episodes from religious texts became a great source of inspiration, he was also marvelled by beauty of South Indian women.

Most of his paintings dwelled on touching subjects and moments such as ‘Nala Damayanti’, ‘Shantanu and Matsyagandha’, ‘Shantanu and Ganga’, ‘Radha and Madhava’, ‘Kamsa Maya’, ‘Shrikrishna and Devaki’, ‘Arjuna and Subhadra’, ‘Draupadi Vastraharan’, ‘Harischandra and Taramati’, ‘Birth of Krishna’ and so on.

With the aim to bring Indians closer to art, he started a lithography printing press called the Ravi Varma Pictures Depot in 1894 for mass production of his paintings. It was five years later that he shifted the Press from Ghatkopar to Malavli, near Lonavala. Most of the managerial work of the press was headed by his brother. In 1901, the press was sold to German printing technician.

Awards & Achievements

At the beginning of his career, in 1873, he won an award in Vienna where his paintings were exhibited.

At the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893, he was bestowed with three gold medals for his work of art.

In 1904, on behalf of the King Emperor, Viceroy Lord Curzon awarded him with the Kaisar-i-Hind Gold Medal.

Several schools, colleges, institutions and cultural organizations have been named after him, such as Raja Ravi Varma High School at Kilimanoor, a college dedicated to fine arts in Mavelikara, Kerala, and so on.

In 2013, a crater on Mercury was named in the honor of this greater Indian painter.

Personal Life & Legacy

He tied the nuptial knot with Pururuttathi Nal Bhageerathi, who belonged to the royal family of Mavelikara. The couple was blessed with five children, two sons and three daughters.

He breathed his last on October 5, 1906 in the village of Kilimanoor in Travancore. He was 58 at the time of his death.

His family continued his artistic lineage. While his second son Rama Varma was an artist trained at JJ School of Arts, his daughters served as his inspiration for his paintings and continued his artistic creativity through their offsprings and grand-children.

Due to his immense contribution in the field of art, the Government of Kerala initiated a yearly award in his name, Raja Ravi Varma Puraskaram, which is given to artists who have contributed in the field of art and culture.

Trivia

The fame of Raja Ravi Varma had reached to such great heights that the small town of Kilimanoor was compelled to open a post office, as letters for requests of paintings came flooding in for him from various corners of the country.

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Raja Ravi Varma biography timelines

  • // 29th Apr 1848
    Raja Ravi Varma was born to Umamba Thampuratti and Neelakanthan Bhattatiripad on April 29, 1848, in the princely state of Kilimanoor, in Kerala. While his mother was a poet and a writer by profession, his father was a scholar. He had three siblings, Goda Varma, Raja Varma and Mangala Bayi.
  • // 1870 To 1878
    From 1870 to 1878, he painted several portraits of important Indian aristocracy and British officials and gained much reputation for himself as a portrait painter. What gave him the edge over other painters was his sensitivity towards the subject and the finesse with which he executed the subject.
  • // 1873
    Year 1873 marked the beginning of a prosperous era in the career of this proficient painter who won the first prize at the Madras Painting exhibition. This was just the beginning, as the same year he won the coveted first prize in Vienna exhibition thereby becoming a world famous Indian painter.
  • // 1873
    At the beginning of his career, in 1873, he won an award in Vienna where his paintings were exhibited.
  • // 1893
    His popularity soared so high that his paintings were sent to World's Columbian Exposition held in Chicago in 1893
  • // 1894
    With the aim to bring Indians closer to art, he started a lithography printing press called the Ravi Varma Pictures Depot in 1894 for mass production of his paintings. It was five years later that he shifted the Press from Ghatkopar to Malavli, near Lonavala. Most of the managerial work of the press was headed by his brother. In 1901, the press was sold to German printing technician.
  • // 1904
    In 1904, on behalf of the King Emperor, Viceroy Lord Curzon awarded him with the Kaisar-i-Hind Gold Medal.
  • // 5th Oct 1906
    He breathed his last on October 5, 1906 in the village of Kilimanoor in Travancore. He was 58 at the time of his death.

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Raja Ravi Varma's FAQ

  • What is Raja Ravi Varma birthday?

    Raja Ravi Varma was born at 1848-04-29

  • When was Raja Ravi Varma died?

    Raja Ravi Varma was died at 1906-10-05

  • Where was Raja Ravi Varma died?

    Raja Ravi Varma was died in Attingal, Kerala

  • Which age was Raja Ravi Varma died?

    Raja Ravi Varma was died at age 58

  • Where is Raja Ravi Varma's birth place?

    Raja Ravi Varma was born in Kilimanoor

  • What is Raja Ravi Varma nationalities?

    Raja Ravi Varma's nationalities is Indian

  • Who is Raja Ravi Varma spouses?

    Raja Ravi Varma's spouses is Pururuttathi Nal Bhageerathi

  • Who is Raja Ravi Varma siblings?

    Raja Ravi Varma's siblings is Goda Varma, Raja Varma and Mangala Bayi

  • Who is Raja Ravi Varma's father?

    Raja Ravi Varma's father is Neelakanthan Bhattatiripad

  • Who is Raja Ravi Varma's mother?

    Raja Ravi Varma's mother is Umamba Thampuratti

  • What is Raja Ravi Varma's sun sign?

    Raja Ravi Varma is Taurus

  • How famous is Raja Ravi Varma?

    Raja Ravi Varma is famouse as Painter