ISBN 9788190157605,Raja Ravi Varma The Painter Prince 1848-1906

Raja Ravi Varma The Painter Prince 1848-1906



Publication Year 2003

ISBN 9788190157605

ISBN-10 8190157604

Hard Back

Number of Pages 283 Pages
Language (English)

Biography & autobiography

From the foreword by Dr. Karan Singh: Painting in India has a long and distinguished tradition going all the way back to the frescos in the Ajanta and Ellora caves many centuries ago. In the middle of the 19 century, as part of the Indian renaissance, there was an efflorescence of artistic talent in various parts of India. The Bengali and Baroda schools later became the best known, but down in the South the work of Raja Ravi Varma (1848-1906) created artistic history. His depiction of Indian themes, including devotional and mythological figures, created a great sensation at that time. It is recorded that when his paintings were exhibited in Mumbai, vast crowds of people gathered to see the paintings and thousands of their photographs were sold all over India.Almost a century has elapsed since the significant contribution made by Raja Ravi Varma (1848-1906), in transforming the sensibility and history of painting in India. Although evaluation of his work remains controversial, he was among the first artists in the 19 century to introduce a radical change: by focusing on themes of Indian mythology and literature. He did this by resurrecting classical Indian sources from the Mahabharata and from Kalidasa?s plays, and by combining this with European techniques of realism in colour, composition and perspective.As in the West, and unlike the Indian tradition, he employed models of Nair women from Travancore and Maharashtrian women from Bombay in representing life as he saw or imagined it. In his day he remained unrivalled for his mastery of these contemporary skills, where the sheen of silk saris and lustre of pearl necklaces brought a ?real-life? quality to his portraits. At the same time he was inspired by Marathi theatre to infuse a dramatic quality into his paintings. Krishna and other religious figures, as well as Shakuntala and Damayanti became hugely popular, and with the spread of oleographs they were instailed in every Hindu home?to shape a new aesthetic sensibility in the country.Much of stage performance, early cinema and popular calendar art in the 20 century have in turn been influenced by the paintings of Ravi Varma. An assessment of his work needs to consider his innovations in focusing on lesser-known subjects from the epics. In his time he was praised by Sister Nivedita for ?the urge to feel and act patriotically and bring painting to the service of Swadeshi and Nationalism?.A comprehensive folio of Raja Ravi Varma?s works has been long overdue. Princess Gowri Lakshmibai of Travancore has provided the valuable text for this fine portfolio published by Shri Parsram Mangharam, containing one hundred and fifty prints of Raja Ravi Varma?s paintings from private collections of Maharajas, as well as art galleries around the country. Although this particular genre is now out of fashion, it is important to remember the significant contribution made by Raja Ravi Varma at a time when we were under foreign rule and were in danger of losing touch with our cultural heritage. I warmly commend this folio to art lovers in India and abroad.From the front jacket: I have spent entire mornings scrutinizing Ravi Varma?s paintings. I like them very much indeed. These paintings show how much our country?s typical human figures, themes and expressions are dear to us. Of course, in some of his paintings, physical proportions are too much lacking. But in all they create a great impression on the mind. In fact, as soon as we observe them, at the very outset, we begin to understand what the artist actually wishes to express, and our mind can subsequently fill up the rest when the slightest effort is made. It is very easy to find errors in them, and it does not require a great power. But if we dispassionately think it over, we can as well realize how difficult it is to imagine any subject so vividly in painting?Moreover, to paint a picture, the minutest details in convincing vividness?It is not a trifling matter by Rabindranath Tagore.It is rare to come across in these days men like him, artists like him, lovers of India like him by Dr. Abanindranath Tagore.