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Natural marvel

Raja Ravi Varma

Born into an aristocratic family on April 29, 1848 in Kilimanoor a small kingdom in Kerala, Raja Ravi Varma spent his childhood in a family were the fresh waft of creativity was abundant. His family was full of scholars, poets and artists prominent among them were Vidwan Koil Tampuran, author of the famous Kathakali work Ravana Vijayam, who painted after the Tanjore style, and Uma Amba Bai Tampuratty, who, composed Parvati Swayamvaram, a work for the Tullal dance.

Right from his childhood Ravi Varma showed his inclination for art which was manifested in the form of pictures of animals and other scenes from daily life on the walls of his home. Though it troubled others in the family his uncle Raja Raja Varma could comprehend them as the little blossoms of a master mind. Being himself a Tanjore artist he decided to give his nephew the primary lessons of painting. With the help of the then ruling king Ayilyam Thirunal he made some commendable arrangements for the training of the boy. Later he was sent to Thiruvananthapuram where he stayed at the Moodath Madam house of the Kilimanoor Palace and was taught water colour painting by the palace painter Rama Swamy Naidu. Ayilyam Thirunal himself being an art enthusiast exposed to him the mesmeric world of Italian Renaissance paintings which nurtured the talents of the boy. 

Ravi Varma with his magnetic style has brought a momentous turn in the art of India. He is most remembered for his paintings of beautiful sari-clad women. His works flaunts the aesthetic blending of Indian traditions with the techniques of European academic art. It was Ravi Varma’s mesmerizing brush that depicted the Indian Gods and mythological characters in natural earthy surroundings using a European realism. This amazing style has influenced not only the Indian calendar-art but also impinged the Indian film and television industry.

Raja Ravi Varma got the international attention after his painting exhibition at Vienna in 1873 which won him an award. His paintings were also sent to the World's Columbian Exposition held in Chicago in 1893 and he was awarded two gold medals. He travelled throughout India in search of subjects. Raja Ravi Varma died in 1906 at the age of 58.

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  Topics: Varkala   Thiruvananthapuram   Artist