Ravi Varma

Article Works Projects
Visual Arts (general)
Asia, Southern and Central
created on:
July 28, 2003
last changed on:
Please note: This page has not been updated since January 16, 2006. We decided to keep it online because we think the information is still valuable.
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Ravi Varma (1848–1906) was born in Kilimanoor in the princely state of Travancore, now in Kerala, India. He studied Sanskrit at school, which might have led him to illustrate Hindu cultic figures and mythology when he became an artist. Though the profession was looked down upon in his extended aristocratic family, Ravi Varma received encouragement from his maternal uncle in his artistic pursuit. He was primarily a self-taught artist. With the help of the Maharaja of Travancore he got the opportunity to observe a European portrait artist, Theodore Johnson, at work in 1868. He began to copy his method and work in oils. Ravi Varma received several awards from British administrators and his royal patrons. He excelled in realistic portraiture and illusionistic renderings of Hindu mythology. To cope with the increasing demand for his work, he started getting his pictures reproduced in Germany. Subsequently he started his own printing presses in and around Bombay, with the help of German technicians. Ravi Varma’s style and rendering of mythological characters became a model for later artists, theatre directors and film-makers. He is considered to be the most influential progenitor of Indian popular art.
Author: House of World Cultures


Group Exhibitions (Choice)

Exhibition / Installation
2003 "body.city”, House of World Cultures, Berlin, Germany


This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the culturebase.net partner institutions.


New Perspectives from India

(19 September 03 - 16 November 03)