Digital Sketch inspired by Raja Ravi Varma

This quick digital art of an Indian lady is inspired by one of the works of the iconic painter Raja Ravi Varma, considered among the greatest painters of India. He pioneered a new movement in Indian art by setting up a lithographic press to mass-produce copies of his works.

I believe two major reasons behind the massive success of the artist (as compared to contemporaries like Pestonjee Bomanji, Rustom Siodia, and MV Dhurandar), was first, he created a beautiful version of his sitters (especially females) with large pensive and expressive eyes, full lips and curvy figures. And second, he reached the masses by creating prints of his works.

But during his lifetime, all was not hunky-dory as he was criticized several times by art reviewers. Interestingly, he was criticized for adopting Western Realism in his paintings and color choices. His works were termed ‘calendar art’ and he suffered the wrath of conservatives for his nude works. But the legendary artist lives on as generations after generations continue to be inspired by his vibrant, beautiful paintings.

A typical day in the life of artist Raja Ravi Varma and his brother

Recently, I found a book (Art and Nationalism in Colonial India 1850-1922 by Partha Mitter) that describes his daily routine. It is interesting how the master and his talented brother worked together to deliver masterpieces. “A typical day of Ravi (Raja Ravi Varma) and Raja Varma gives us a vivid idea about their professional routine. In Bombay, it was a settled existence completing commissions. For Ravi, who was more orthodox than his brother, the day began with a ritual bath and prayer, followed by a long working period, punctuated by an afternoon siesta. The work was efficiently divided into portrait commissions with tight deadlines and more leisurely production of works for the competition.”

“While Ravi Varma concentrated on mythological pictures, Raja painted landscapes when not assisting his brother in ‘more serious (portrait) work.”

The book also talks about their leisure hours, “Outside working hours, they browsed at the Taraporevala Bookshop, entertained friends, and visited the theatre. They spent summer and monsoon months in the city, going back to Kerala at the approach of autumn. During the monsoons, the paint took longer to dry and the light was ‘unsteady’. The problem of the light was solved in 1903 when the roof of their Bombay studio was glazed.”

The brothers worked on several paintings at the same time, their studio would have different paintings at different stages of completion. They often had to deal with unreasonable demands of their clients, especially women, who were “never satisfied with dress or ornaments.” And had to cater to the whims and fancies of royal patrons.

Here are some of my favorite works by the master artist, whose paintings provided a visual story to the rich Indian mythology. I hope to study and learn more from the artist by creating some more digital versions of his works.


Shakuntala by Ravi Varma
Damyanti by Raja Ravi Varma

Digital art – storiesbyshivangi, Art Prints – Google #digital #sketch #Indianbeauty #RajaRaviVarma

12 thoughts on “Digital Sketch inspired by Raja Ravi Varma

  1. Raja Ravi Varma is not just among India’s greatest painters; he is a grand visualiser of mythology, whose artistry vivified the spiritual world of Indians. Thanks, Shivangi, for the pics and narration.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Shivangi this is a great detailing of the Raja Ravi Varma, all these days I had thought that it is one person. Raja and Ravi are two brothers I didn’t know.
    Yes they were the most talented and are still in demand.
    Theirs is a Wonderful collection. You being a painter have much to know from them.
    My Pats

    Liked by 1 person

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