Raja Ravi Varma was born on April 29, 1848 in Kilimanoor, Travancore & died on October 2, 1906 in Kilimanoor, Travancore, India, was an Indian painter from the princely state of Travancore who achieved recognition for his depiction of scenes from the epics of the Mahabharata and Ramayana. His paintings are considered to be among the best examples of the fusion of Indian traditions with the techniques of European academic art.
His father Ezhumavail Neelakanthan Bhattatiripad was an accomplished scholar, and his mother Umayamba Thampuratti was a poet and writer whose work Parvati Swayamvaram would be published by Raja Ravi Varma after her death. His siblings were C. Goda Varma, C. Raja Raja Varma and Mangala Bayi Thampuratti, who was also a painter. At a young age he secured the patronage of HH Maharajah Ayilyam Thirunal of Travancore,( a relative, and began formal training thereafter. He was trained in water painting by Rama Swami Naidu, and later in oil painting by Dutch portraitist Theodor Jenson. Raja Ravi Varma High school for Boys & Girls are situated at Kilimanoor in memory of Him. There are lot of other cultural organizations through out Kerala with His name. His palace is nearly 6 Kilometer from Ponganadu and 7.7kilometer from Pazhayachanda.
Varma is most remembered for his paintings of beautiful sari-clad women, who were portrayed as shapely and graceful. His exposure in the west came when he won the first prize in the Vienna Art Exhibition in 1873. Raja Ravi Varma died in 1906 at the age of 58. He is considered among the greatest painters in the history of Indian art.
Raja Ravi Varma received widespread acclaim after he won an award for an exhibition of his paintings at Vienna in 1873. Raja Ravi Varma’s paintings were also sent to the World’s Columbian Exposition held in Chicago in 1893 and he was awarded two gold medals. He travelled throughout India in search of subjects. He often modeled Hindu Goddesses on South Indian women, whom he considered beautiful. Ravi Varma is particularly noted for his paintings depicting episodes from the story of Dushyanta and Shakuntala, and Nala and Damayanti, from the Mahabharata. Ravi Varma’s representation of mythological characters has become a part of the Indian imagination of the epics. He is often criticized for being too showy and sentimental in his style. However his work remains very popular in India.
In 1904 Viceroy Lord Curzon, on behalf of the King Emperor bestowed upon Raja Ravi Varma the Kaiser-i-Hind Gold Medal. At this time his name was mentioned as “Raja Ravi Varma” for the first time, raising objections from Maharajah Moolam Thirunal of Travancore. Ravi Varma however defended the title stating that his ancestors had been the Rajahs of Beypore in Malabar and besides, as per the Marumakkathayam tradition, the name of the maternal uncle (Raja Raja Varma) was prefixed to the name. Thereafter he was always referred to as Raja Ravi Varma.
In 1993, art critic Rupika Chawla and artist A Ramachandran jointly curated a large exhibition of Raja Ravi Varma’s works at the National Museum, New Delhi. Considering his vast contribution to Indian art, the Government of Kerala has instituted an award called Raja Ravi Varma Puraskaram, which is awarded every year to people who show excellence in the field of art and culture.