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Raja Ravi Verma: The Father of Modern Indian Art

Friday, April 29th, 2016

Raja Ravi Verma, who was born on this day, several years ago (29th April, 1848) is celebrated as the father of modern Indian art. He was the first Indian painter to combine European academic techniques with Indian sensibilities. His dedication to realism, expert understanding of light and colour and attention to detail helped infuse life into his paintings. He is also known for breaking the boundaries around ‘high art.’ Ravi Verma was perhaps one of the first Indian artists to reproduce prints of his paintings and sell them to the masses. This enabled even the common man to view and display Raja Ravi Verma’s paintings. He is best known for his paintings of Hindu deities and mythological characters. He has even painted crucial scenes from revered Indian mythological texts like the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. Here are some of his best works.

His depiction of Radha’s introduction to Krishna. Notice the interest on Krishna’s face and the shyness on Radha’s.

Orange cartoon

This painting captures the abduction of Sita by Ravana. It freezes the moment after Ravana chops off Jatayu, the vulture demi-God’s wing.


This painting depicts Lord Vishnu with his two wives, Lakshmi and Maya, seated on Garuda. This is a very popular Raja Ravi Verma painting.


This is one of Ravi Verma’s most expressive paintings. It captures the exact moment when Nala is leaving Damayanti. Notice the grief on Nala’s face. His anguish at having to leave his wife and his anxieties about the future are almost tangible.


His depiction of goddess Saraswati. Notice the relaistic Sari folds and beautiful natural setting


(All images sourced from Orange Carton)

If you ever get a chance to visit an exhibition of his works, don’t miss it!