Ahead of the 175th birth anniversary fete of the legendary artist Raja Ravi Varma, who revolutionised Indian aesthetics and redefined art practice during the colonial era, the erstwhile royal family of Kilimanoor has urged the Union Ministry to posthumously confer the Bharat Ratna, the country’s highest civilian award, on Mr. Varma.
In a proposal submitted to G. Kishan Reddy, Union Minister for Culture, the Kilimanoor Palace Trust said considering Mr. Varma’s creative excellence, path-breaking innovations, amazing artistic prowess and exceptional performance that carried India’s name and fame beyond its borders, the family members and the people who love him believe that he is the most eligible candidate for the highest civilian honour.
‘Characters come alive’
Ramavarma Thampuran K.R., general secretary of the Trust, told The Hindu, “I would say it is still not too late to honour and perpetuate the memory of the master painter who democratised art and popularised the characters of myths and classical literature with his masterly brush strokes. His paintings continue to inspire generations and exert influence on art, architecture, culture, religion, textiles, ceramics, and fashion accessories even now. In addition, Hinduism and the country are obliged to him as he changed the images of gods and goddess from the supernatural to the human form,” said Mr. Thampuran.
“We hope there will be a positive decision as the Union Minister has responded to our request sympathetically. We will soon submit a proposal to hold a one-year-long grand anniversary celebration across the country in connection with his 175th birth anniversary fete,” said Mr. Thampuran. It is believed that he had made around 7,000 paintings before his death at the age of 58. But only one painting is now left in ‘Chithrashala,’ the artist’s studio at Kilimanoor Palace — an unfinished portrait of ‘Parsi lady’ which was his last work.
Born into the aristocracy at Kilimanoor in the erstwhile Travancore on April 29, 1848, Mr. Varma’s women-centric paintings portray a vast variety of their expressions and costumes. Some of his popular works are ‘Lady in the Moonlight’, ‘Nair Lady Adorning Her Hair’, ‘Malabar Lady with Violin’, ‘Lady with Swarbat’, ‘Maharashtrian Lady with Fruits’, ‘Lady with a Mirror’, ‘Lady Giving Alms’, ‘Lady in Contemplation’, ‘Woman with Veena’ and ‘Lady Holding a Fruit’.