Raja Ravi Varma was the Pioneer of Modern Indian Art in 19th century. He was born in 1848
in Killimanoor Village, twenty four miles from the town of Kottayam in Travancore
State. In 1866, he married the youngest sister of Maharaja of Travancore. Ravi Varma on
his twentieth year he had the chance to observe the working technique of Theodore Jensen, a
Danish born British artist, who visited Travancore in 1869. Ravi Varma copied the
western technique in his work, but he chose for his subject themes from Hindu mythology. He
won Governor's Gold medal for his Nair Lady at Toilet, in 1873.
Ravi Varma painted scenes form Hindu mythology and popularised it. He introduced large
bright areas of colour in his portrait and landscape. Ravi Varma's younger
brother C. Raja Ravi Varma joined with him as companion and collaborator during their
work was acclaimed at the Pune exhibition in 1880 and art exhibition held in Vienna and
Chicago in 1892. The rulers of Mysore and Travancore appreciated his numerous paintings
of Hindu mythology. Ravi Varma's finest paintings of "Sakuntala",
"The Miser", "Lady with the Mirror", "Yasodha" and "Krishna"
are on display in the new gallery lighted with Fibre optic lighting.
Raja Ravi Varma
travelled widely throughout India and commissioned painting for Indian rulers. During his last
days Ravi Varma could not devote much time to painting, as he became the guardian of
the next ruler of Travancore, who was then a minor. He dominated the art scene like a
colossus form 1870 till his death in 1906.
The paintings of Raja
Ravi Varma, along with its paintings and sculptures of D.P. Roy Chowdhury, have
been housed in this gallery.
Fibre Optic Lighting A
First for Indian Museums
Paintings in Fibre Optic Lighting
In order to
avoid the deterioration due to heat and radiation, recently Fibre optic lighting have been
installed in the National Art Gallery. The lighting has been used to illuminate the Raja
Ravi Varma and other paintings in the back room of the National Art Gallery.