Raja Ravi Varma

Raja Ravi Varma (1848–1906) was a painter from minor royalty in what is today Kerala state in southwest India. From a very early age, he took to painting, and was encouraged by many in an artistic family. After apparently being rejected as a court painter at the age of thirteen because his skin was too dark, he kept learning from visiting Indian and English painters. In his mid-twenties he won a prize at an exhibition in Chennai. From then on, patronage by successive British Governor- Generals and Indian feudal rulers was assured. Ravi Varma’s fusion of Western perspective, the new medium of oil painting, Hindu mythology and photography continue to have mass appeal to Indian audiences today. In 1892 they took the bold step of investing the enormous sum of Rs. 80,000 in a printing press (at the time, Ravi Varma was earning Rs. 1500 from a reluctant-to-pay Maharajah for a portrait that took weeks to execute). Dadabhai Naoroji (1825–1917), an early Parsi Independence leader from Mumbai, is said to have arranged for Germans to come over and bring the steam-driven lithographic press with them. The Press was sold to the Germans in 1903, and they received rights to reproduce some of Ravi Varma's most famous paintings, which they did in many forms, including the postcards shown below.

Birth of Shakuntala

Birth of Shakuntala

Vishvamitra was a revered sage in ancient India; this postcard from one of Ravi Varma's most famous paintings shows how he rejects knowledge of his child by turning away and hiding his gaze with a dramatic gesture.

[Original caption] Menaka sent by

Vishnu Garud-vahan

Vishnu Garud-vahan

[Original caption, verso] God Vishnu with his two wives, the goddesses of the earth and the wealth, is represented as riding on his vehicle Garud. [end]

The Garuda, a mythical bird, is also called Kashyapi, Chirada, Vishnuratha, Gaganeshvara,

Victory of Indrajit

Victory of Indrajit

[Original caption] Victory of Indrajit : - Indrajit brings Indra as a captive before his father Ravana with the riches and the nymphs of Indra-Loka. [end]

This postcard, from a painting by Ravi Varma, combines a great moment in Hindu religious

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