The Raja of paintings
By Kinjal Trivedi
Raja Ravi Varma was a celebrated painter of India in the 18th century.
He was born in the Royal family of Travancore region. He got married at the age of 14 and had five children.
Being from the Royal family greatly influenced his aesthetic and broader social style. His paintings were about the strong yet graceful women of his royal families. They reflected how he perceived women all around India. The style and grace of each woman was amplified in the most beautiful manner.
Raja Ravi Varmas graceful paintings were not just one series of work to be appreciated. Each element gave inspiration and boosted many other industries. His sense of fashion in each painting greatly influenced and started a tradition of textile, weaving and style of wearing a saree. The way the sarees were draped was how the women of all strature wanted to dress up for various occasions. This added a sense of royalty in them. Much like how we talked about masquerades and influence of socio-economic ideas in art and culture.
He travelled throughout India in search of subjects to paint. He often modelled Hindu Goddesses or Indian women, whom he considered beautiful. Ravi Varma’s representation of mythological characters have become a part of the Indian imagination of the epics.
The title Raja was given to him as a personal title by the Viceroy and Governor-General of India (name?). A college dedicated to fine arts was also constituted in his honour at Mavelikara, Kerala. On his 65th death anniversary, the postal department of India,issued a commemorative postal stamp depicting Ravi Varma and his famous painting ‘Damayanti and Swan’.
You must visit the Lakshmi Vilas Palace in Vadodara to see this immense heritage of our country in real.