Raja Ravi Varma is indisputably one of the most famous amongst all Indian artists and is an Indian art legend. He is regarded as the Godfather of Modern Indian painting. When it comes to depiction of beauty of Indian women on the canvas, there is no other soul that can replace Raja Ravi Varma. Today, his paintings are nothing short of a national treasure. Even the modern day artists seem awestruck by the charisma of Ravi Varma paintings.
The Indian artist was born in the princely State of Travancore (now in Kerala) in April 1848 in a royal family of those times. It is said that Raja Ravi Verma was a born Indian artist as he inherited his artistic skills from his family. He was brought up in a family, which had its association with the culture, art and literature of that time. His mother Uma Amba Bai Tampuratti was a poet, his father Ezhymavil Neelakantan Bhattathiripad was a Sanskrit scholar and his uncle Raja Raja Varma was an amateur artist, who taught young Ravi his initial art lessons. As a little boy, Ravi Verma used to draw and colour the walls of his home with pictures of characters found in everyday life.
At the age of 13, Maharaja Ayilyam Thirunaal appreciated his skills an subsequently, began patronizing his artistic endeavors. Thereafter he shifted to the Thiruvathankore palace premises (in Thiruvananthapuram/Trivandrum). Here, Ravi Varma got the opportunity to be trained by the palace artist Ramaswami Naicker, who at that time had already mastered the European style of painting, and from Theodore Jensen, a Dutch portrait painter. Ravi Verma, the Indian art legend stated playing with different painting techniques and crude colours for nine whole years and his efforts were appreciated, though they were not the best. He slowly started learning the principles of European art and spent most of his time in the palace by studying painting as an art form.
The famous Indian artist was reputed to be a controversial artist of his time, mainly because of his paintings of nude and semi-nude goddesses and women, which were considered obscene, offending the general public and hurting religious and cultural sentiments of the people. It is also rumored that he had an affair with his muse Sugandha, in spite of being married. He drew a number of nude pictures of Sugandha, which were supposed to be kept private but became public for no known reasons. He was a rebel. He did not stop painting such nude pictures in spite of controversies, as he believed in his work.
Raja Ravi Verma was truly a legend when it come to revolutionizing the way art is perceived and painted in not only India but the whole world.