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Raja Ravi Varma

Raja Ravi Varma (1848-1906) was an Indian painter who achieved recognition for his depiction of scenes from the epics of the Mahabharata and Ramayana. His paintings are considered to be among the best examples of the fusion of Indian traditions with the techniques of European academic art.

Raja Ravi Varma is most remembered for his paintings of beautiful sari clad women, who were portrayed as very shapely and graceful. His exposure in the west came when he won the first prize in Vienna Art Exhibition in 1873. After a successful career as a painter, Raja Ravi Varma died in (1906) at the age of 58. He is generally considered as one among the greatest painters in the history of Indian art.

Early life

Ravi Varma was born to Umamba Thampuratti and Neelakandan Bhattathiripad in the royal palace of Kilimanoor, which is situated 25 miles from Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum), in Kerala, India. Ravi Varma showed talent at a young age. He got the patronage of Ayilyam Thirunal Maharaja of Travancore when he was 14 years of age, and was taught by the palace painter Rama Swamy Naidu. He was later taught oil painting by a British painter, Theodor Jenson. The power and forceful expression of European painting fascinated Ravi Varma, which came across to him as strikingly contrasting to stylized Indian artwork.

Professional life

Raja Ravi Varma came to widespread acclaim after he won an award for an exhibition of his paintings at Vienna in 1873[1] . He travelled throughout India in search of subjects. He often modeled Hindu Goddesses on South Indian women, whom he considered beautiful. Ravi Varma is particularly noted for his paintings depicting episodes from the story of Dushyanta and Shakuntala, and Nala and Damayanti, from the Mahabharata. Ravi Varma's representation of mythological characters has become a part of the Indian imagination of the epics. He is often criticized for being too showy and sentimental in his style. However his work remains very popular in India.
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