Have you seen this painting before?
Not many people know about this artwork; let alone they know this is a Ravi Varma creation.
It was the most expensive Raja Ravi Varma painting until recently. This painting was created by Ravi Varma as per the request from Maharaja of Travancore to celebrate the historic occasion of arrival of Governor of Madras and other British officials to his homeland.
Similarly, there are many more lesser known Raja Ravi Varma paintings that you may have never seen before. We’ve picked top 10 of them.
#1 Woman in Red
In this classic painting, Ravi Varma portrays a young maharashtrian woman standing close to a half opened wooden door. The lady appears to be a homemaker and is wearing a traditional north Indian attire. She is seen wearing a red saree and some jewellery made of gold. She is posing with a beautiful smile giving us an impression that she is standing there in expectation of someone.
Historians suggest that this beautiful painting was made around 1890s when Raja Ravi Varma was living in Bombay. That means, the woman in this picture could be Ravi Varma’s neighbour at that time. Unfortunately, we are unable to verify this as there was little information about this painting in Ravi Varma history books.
#2 Sita Bhumi Pravesh
This painting sketches the most saddest scene from the Hindu epic Ramayana. It illustrates the moment Sita returns to her mother Earth by descending to ground, while her sons Lav-Kush, husband Rama and sages watch in shock.
The level of detail Raja Ravi Varma added to the painting is just remarkable. You can almost experience the bewilderment from the eyes of folks witnessing this sight. The swinging flags on the buildings in background, the detailed furniture in the foreground, the jewellery worn by royals; all adds to prove the immense painting skills Ravi Varma was capable of.
Because of the sad feelings this painting evokes, I suspect many Hindus were hesitant to keep this artwork in their homes. And that made this artwork lesser known in social circles.
#3 Young Kerala Beauty
Yet another portrait by the master painter. This time, Raja Ravi Varma draws our attention towards a beautiful young lady in a traditional kerala attire. She is seen wearing a kerala saree with classic ornaments. She’s appearing with a nervous smile giving onlooker the impression that she is little bit hesitant to pose for the portrait.
This painting is in our rare list because, you’ll hardly see this in any of Raja Ravi Varma art collections.
#4 St Geevarghese Mar Gregorios of Parumala
In my opinion, this is THE painting that you’ll be surprised to know that it is a Raja Ravi Varma creation.
When you think of Ravi Varma, I can almost guarantee that the paintings that comes to your mind are his beautiful and dramatic Hindu mythological paintings. That’s because, these made him famous. So, when you hear about his Christian paintings, you’ll be normally skeptical.
But, the truth is – this painting was a commissioned work by Ravi Varma to a gentleman named Dr.Philip. The subject of this painting is ‘Bishop of Parumala, Kerala of whom, Dr. Philip was a disciple. This painting was originally meant for a hospital in Kumarakom, Kerala, where Dr. Philip was practitioner. Later, after his death, this painting was moved to a church near the hospital. The painting still decorates the church.
#5 The Miser
In this painting, Raja Ravi Varma paints an old aged man sitting on side of a table holding to his bag of coins. He has a stingy look on his face suggesting the viewer that he is selfish of his possessions and is not ready to part anything from his bag. It’s great to see the minute details Raja Ravi Varma added to bring a beggarly look to this painting. This artwork is one of the recent addition to our Ravi Varma collection.
Just like the ‘Young Kerala Beauty’ artwork, you won’t also see this painting in majority of Ravi Varma art collections out there.
In this rare painting, Raja Ravi Varma beautifully portrays the goddess of spring, Vasanthika in her incredible realm. Ravi Varma paints her as a young woman living in an ethereal world where it’s always autumn. She is depicted as an Indian woman in a traditional attire. She is seen wearing a simple pink saree with floral ornaments in her neck and arms.
As you can see in the artwork, she is surrounded by nature at the most enchanting time of the year. The flowing river in background, beautiful flowers on plants, colourful leaves, little waterfall on the mountains … all heightens the beauty of this artwork to give you the glimpse of the exquisite nature of her world.
Isn’t that brilliant? And have you seen this painting before?
#7 Portrait of Travancore Man
You would hardly find any Raja Ravi Varma painting with no women in it, except for some paintings depicting mythological stories and scenes. The Ravi Varma painting here, however, has no women in it.
The painting is a portrait of a man sitting on a chair and scribbling something to his notebook. From the look of the dress he’s wearing, we could learn that he’s an accountant and Ravi Varma portrays him while he’s at work. The level of detail given to the painting is just exceptional!
Have you seen this painting before?
Parasurama is a character from the Hindu mythology who is considered as an ‘avatar’ of Lord Vishnu. He is described in the mythologies as a Brahmin-Kshatriya with characteristics of both brahmin and Kshatriya. He’s often portrayed as a human with two hands holding an axe. The axe is his main weapon used to defeat all evil. In this painting Parasurama is seen sitting on a rock among mountains.
So, why this a lesser known painting?
The reason is simple, the name and story of Parasurama is diverse in different Hindu texts. Because of this, Parashurama is not a popular character among Hindus and only few people worship him. The result – lesser popularity for his paintings. And that’s the same reason, you can hardly see any Parasurama paintings in pooja rooms.
#9 Man Reading a Book
In this painting, Ravi Varma portrays a man at a reading desk. The man is reading from the light of the steel lamp on his table and is completely engrossed in his book. From the look of the painting, we can learn that this man is from a royal family as there’s a guard outside his room keeping him on watch.
Have you seen this painting anywhere?
#10 Marriage of Matsyagandha
This painting depicts the scene of Bhishma pratigya (Oath) from Hindu mythology.
Devavrata, the young Bhishma, was the son of King Shantanu and Ganga. As Shanthanu could not keep the promise he gave to Ganga, she leaves them and depart to devalok. At a later stage in the story, Shantanu becomes attracted to a fisherwoman, Satyavati and wanted to marry her. But, her father would agree only on the ground of Satyavati’s child being the next King. Shantanu couldn’t make this promise, but when Bhishma found this out, he went to Satyavati’s house and took vow of lifelong celibacy. The strong vow Bhishma took is known as ‘Bhishma Pratigya’ and this is topic of this Ravi Varma painting. The determination of Bhishma at the time of vow is painted to its absolute best.
Now, over to you…
Which of these paintings are you seeing for the first time? Which one surprised you the most? Have you seen any of these artworks on a wall? Where did you see them? Let the world know!