Our portrait reminds us of the times of the British Raj (1858 – 1947).
It is attributed to Raja Ravi Varma, the first Indian artist that successfully applied Western techniques in portraits and scenes from Indian mythology.
It is possibly a portrait of Maharaja Sayajiro Gaekwad III, Maharaja of Baroda in present-day Gujarat,who was one of our painter’s major clients.
About Raja Ravi Varma
Kilamanoor (Kerala) 1848 – 1906 Attingal (Kerala)
Ravi Varma’s art is a fusion of the tradition of Indian aesthetics with the use of European academic techniques (perspective and the use of oil medium). He was a pupil of the English portrait painter Theodor Jenson.
Raja is a title for a princely ruler. Our painter received that title by the English Viceroy and Governor-General of India. Ravi Varma was born into an aristocratic family in the present-day South Indian state of Kerala on the Malabar coast, but he travelled all over India in search of subjects.
From 1873 onwards he won several first prizes and gold medals at exhibitions in India. In 1893 he won three gold medals at the Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition, in the USA. He became very famous in India, especially because of the huge number of cheap, mythological chromolithographs he had printed after his paintings, that were sold all over the country and available to all layers of society.
Because of the high volume of fan mail that he received he was actually the first and only person in India who had his own personal post office (in Kilamanoor).
Most of his oil paintings are based on Hindu epic stories and characters of the Mahabharata and Ramanyana, painted in a strongly sentimental style, but he also painted portraits.
About our painting
Many of Raja Ravi Varma’s paintings are today exhibited at the Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum, housed in Laxmi Vilas Palace in Vadodora in the state of Gujarat.
Maharaja Sayajiro Gaekwad III’s ceremonial portrait was already painted in 1881 by our painter, only to be followed by an important number of family portraits and mythological scenes. It was under the encouragment of the Maharaja that Ravi Varma set up his famous lithograph press in Mumbai in 1894.
Seeing the physical similarities with the prince portrayed in our painting it is tempting to see our painting as a plausible portrait of Maharaja Sayajiro Gaekwad III (1863 – 1939).
Why should you buy this painting?
Because it is a truly exotic portrait, probably painted by the first Indian artist painting according to Western techniques at the heyday of the British Raj.