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RAJA RAVI VARMA : Displaying the Modesty of Women

Theme : Paintings of women, mythological paintings, Modern Indian paintings, Indian painters.

If only one painter of India is to be chosen for the display of his artworks, he would surely be Raja Ravi Varma. He infused the sense of modernity into the Indian art of Painting. Raja Ravi Varma (1848-1906 AD) got recognition for his masterly painted canvases of Hindu Gods and Goddesses; his subjects were popular mythological scenes from Hindu epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana.
A Lady Giving alms.

On seeing his paintings, we would know how wealthy are his decorative details, and how he painted the gorgeous garments the Indian women put on in ancient and medieval India. The collection of paintings is treasure of Indian art along with the great miniature paintings depicted in Hamzanama that was sponsored by Mughal Emperor Akbar.

The Artist of Mythological Scenes

Modest in behaviour, a perfect religious follower, Raja Ravai Varma was a man of traditions. The logical implication of this could be that he would be an artist choosing mythological subjects. He did the same, and he did it extraordinarily. He executed infusion of traditional style of Indian painting with modern dimensions of European art.

Urvashi and Pururava

His paintings are considered to be among the best examples of the masterly adept combination of Indian traditions with the techniques of European academic art. He took the 'modesty of woman' as his one of the subjects and he was the first Indian artist depicting the grace and modesty of women so beautifully. In doing so the infusion of European style of painting came to his help. The painting shown here is based on one of the stories of Ramayana. We can see the sharp lining of figure, and the use of bright colours for the figures and subdued for the background, make the figures looking three-dimensional.

The Art: The painting shown here displays how the master artist had painted the modesty of women through the colours and his masterly brush stokes. Each painting shows one or another woman-specific emotion expertly executed by Raja Ravi Varma. Raja Ravi Varma first took lessons in watercolour painting under the guidance of another master; and then he had become disciple of one British artist who was an painter working in oil colours. There after , Raja Ravi Varma's paintings were done in oil.

Princess Damayanti Talking with Royal Swan

The depiction of Hindu Gods and Goddess and other characters of the Indian mythological stories was Ravi Varma's favorite theme. He had executed his painting skill through the epic stories and their well-known characters like Rama, Sita, and Ravana. In 1873, as recognition of his skill, he had won the First Prize at the Madras Painting Exhibition. But his popularity get acknowledgement of the whole world when he received a prize at Vienna Exhibition in 1873.

Before he died in 1906 at the age of 58, he had earned enough popularity to make him one of the greatest painters in the history of Indian art. [Images Courtesy Raja Ravi Varma [Public domain], Wikimedia Commons, Urvashi and Pururavas Raja Ravi Varma [Public domain], Wikimedia Commons, and Raja Ravi Varma [Public domain], Wikimedia Commons ]

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