“There is no failure. It’s only unfinished success”. These are the words of one of the most celebrated painters and the father of modern Indian art, Raja Ravi Varma. Undoubtedly, he was a genius and his paintings are a work of marvel whichadorns the beauty of Indian art. He plays a major role and has contributed significantly in bringing modern art paintings of India to the attention of rest of the world. There is no denial to the fact that he acted as a linking pin between the traditional Indian art and the new age art. Though his works showed a lot of uniqueness but one thing which makes his artworks extremely special is his portrayal of beautiful sari clad women who were an indispensable part of his paintings. The depiction of these women was extremely graceful, yet powerful, and they energetic vivacious personalities.
Early Life of Raja Ravi Varma:
Born on April 29 1848, in the royal palace of Kilimanoor, Raja Ravi Varmastarted drawing at an extremely early age of seven on the palace walls using charcoals. When he turned fourteen, he was sent to Travancore Palace where he gained the knowledge of water painting by Rama Swamy Naidu. In the later years, he received painting lessons from Theodor Jenson, a British painter. In the year 1873, this marvellous creator of Indian art was rewarded with the first prize at the Madras Painting Exhibition. By each passing day he was turning into a mature artist in the genre of modern art paintings and soon enough the brightness of his talent was shining across the entire world. He got worldwide acclamation after he won multiple international awards. Some of these honours include, but are not limited to, an award at an exhibition in Vienna in 1873 and three gold medals at World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893.
His source of inspiration:
Raja Ravi Varma travelled a lot in search of his subjects for his upcoming artworks. A vast majority of his work revolves around Hindu Goddesses and south Indian women as he considered them attractive and beautiful. Along with this, some of his famous modern art paintings include the depiction of various events from the fable of Dushyanta and Shakuntala from the mythological saga of Mahabharata. Indeed, his representation of the mythical figures has paved the way for the creations of today’s artists. His work is criticised on the ground of extreme revelation but still his creations are considered as the gems of Indian art.
Raja Ravi Varma’s fascination towards European paintings is quite evident in his stylised Indian art paintings. His creations of modern art paintings are a perfect blend of Indian traditions mixed with European academic art.
Lesser Known Facts about Raja Ravi Varma:
- The Kilimanoor Palace was forced to establish a personal post office with the objective to take care of the innumerable painting requests that arrived on a day-to-day basis from all over the world.
- Raja Ravi Varma was in close relation to the royal family of Travancore.
- He was the first artist in the history of Indian art who made his artworks available to the masses, irrespective of the stature and status being held by them in the society.
- Without a doubt, his artworks are so unique due to the incomparableblend of Indian style of painting along with European techniques.
- He made affordable lithographs of his splendid modern art paintings for the public. The theme generally revolved around the Hindu deities and other mythological figures along with the depiction of certain episodes from the Puranas.
- Till now, four movies have been documented on the life of this marvellous artist.
- The Guinness Book of World Records has noted that the most expensive saree in the world weighs 8 kilograms and is priced at a whooping INR 40 lakh which pays tribute to the paintings of Raja Ravi Varma. The saree is called ‘VivahPatu’ and is bordered with eleven of the beautiful creations of his. The saree is designed by the director of Chennai Silks.
Raja Ravi Varma’s modern art paintings are irreplaceable and his name has been carved in the history of splendid Indian Art. In order to honour his marvellous creations, a fine arts college has been established in Mavelikara, Kerala. As a token of respect towards this notable artist, the Government of Keralahas founded an award called “Raja Ravi VarmaPuraskaram”. This award is given to those artists who exhibit spectacular talent on the genre of art and culture.