Remembering the painter who gave human body to Hindu Gods

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Today is the 174th birth anniversary of Raja Ravi Varma. He was a painter among kings and a king among painters. Raja Ravi Varma’s success is attributed to his skilful use of European film technology. He was noted for making lithographs of his paintings available to the public. This made him famous in India as a painter.

Ravi Varma was born on this day on 29th April, 1848 at Kilimanoor in Thiruvananthapuram district in a palace associated with the Travancore royal family. Ravi Varma learnt the lessons of painting from his uncle, who, with his constant efforts, had made him a frontline Indian painter. The encouragement given by Ayilyam Thirunal Maharaja, who understood Ravi Varma’s talent, also played an important role in his growth as a painter.

Theodore Jensen, a famous Dutch oil painter, was an important figure in Ravi Varma’s life. With his guidance, Ravi Varma acquired extraordinary talent in the field as well. Ravi Varma rose to world fame when his paintings won prizes at painting competitions in Madras and Vienna. Ravi Varma’s painting of Lord Buckingham was installed at the Madras government headquarters and the world recognized his talent.

In 1871, he received a heroic chain from the Maharajah and was installed as the head painter. Later, newspapers in India and abroad published articles praising Ravi Varma’s genius. Ravi Varma was also the first to create calendar pictures of Hindu deities in India. His lithographs of Hindu deities were widely appreciated. This earned him the title of a painter who gave the human body to Hindu gods.

Raja Ravi Varma’s style of painting is still followed by modern Indian painting. A century later, those works of art still remain immortal in the minds of the people. Ravi Varma’s writings are still alive in The Chitralayam, Thiruvananthapuram. The painter who was the creator of human bodies of Hindu gods passed away on October 2, 1906.