Raja on sale

An exhibition of Raja Ravi Varma's oleographs starting this week promises to be a delight for all the five senses

November 27, 2010 06:04 pm | Updated 06:04 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

Oleograph of Ram Panchayat.  Photo: Special Arrangement

Oleograph of Ram Panchayat. Photo: Special Arrangement

At a time when paintings were restricted to the domain of folk artists, Raja Ravi Varma decided to widen the horizon. Drawing inspiration from the Western technique of realism, Varma became the leading light of the style known as Company Art. His works therefore stand testimony to a perfect blend of traditional Indian elements and Western art techniques.

More than a century after his death, he is still considered an icon in the history of Indian art and the country's first modern painter. To pay tribute to this great artist with royal lineage, Apparao Galleries presents an exhibition, “After Ravi Varma”, in New Delhi this week.

The exhibition will display a collection of 268 original prints or oleographs which were printed from Varma's press in Maharashtra in the 19th Century. While 136 of these have original frames, 132 of them are loose prints kept in catalogues. The paintings have been sourced from private collections from different parts of South India.

Says a collector, “The prints have a variety of subjects. While there are sacred subjects like Krishna, Ram, Lakshmi, Saraswati, there are also subjects like Sita, Sakuntala, Mandodari, Hamsa Damayanthi, which have been taken from classical literature.” She adds, “Besides the print of the ‘Malabar Ladies', there are dramatic scenes between Dasharath and Kaikeyi, Arjun and Subhadra, to name a few, which characterise the paintings.”

Giving company to the original prints are 19 exquisite Tanjore paintings by unknown painters. “The Tanjores are characterised by gold leaf embossing with precious and semi-precious stones. ‘Butter Krishna' is the most famous Tanjore painting. Other subjects are Ram, Venugopal, Radha-Krishna and others,” says the collector.

The entire collection would be on sale. While each of the oleographs is priced at Rs.14,000 onwards, the Tanjores are priced at Rs.8,000 and onwards.

(The exhibition will be on view from December 1-15 at Garden Theatre, Triveni Kala Sangam, 205 Tansen Marg )

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