Raja Ravi Varma, (born on 29 April 1948 and died on 2 October 1906), was a Indian painter. He was born in Kilimanoor. He is considered to be one of the most important and one of the earliest Indian artists of the 19th century to work on oil paints.
Art in India never really had much of an interest in bringin in the realism that is often seen in those works by the European counterparts. Even so, there were many artists who painted in the realastic style, like Hamendranath Majumdar, Funindranath Bose, and Atul Bose. Ravi Varma was one among these ranks.
Realism was not a feature seen in most of the Indian artworks, which owes to the general absence of materialism in the philosophies and mythologies. Yet, many of the subjects chosen by Ravi Varma for his artworks were based on mythologies. But these were produced in what may be called a ‘European historic style’.
The style to show realism could be due to the influences that Ravi Varma had from French 19th century academic painters as William Adolphe Bouguereau and Gustave Boulanger. Such influences need not be taken with surprise as during those times, the colonial influences were spreading to other fields in India and not just art. Some of the Indian painters had taken tutelage under European teachers or had gone to European institutions for advacned training.
Ravi Varma was also a good portrait painter and thus the subjects were not just those of the Indian mythologies, but also the patrons themselves. He was also successful in lithographic reproduction of his paintings and this resulted in his works reaching the masses.
Among his contemporaries, the fact that he had abandoned the symbolism found in Indian art works for the sake of strict academic realism, was the cause for much critisism. It was also said that due to his ability to disburse his works with the help of lithographic reproductions, he was able to proliferate his version of Indian mythologies that was a different version than the ones in literature and other works.
Not much else is know about Ravi Varma’s professional or private life as there is no literature written by him.
References and credits