Ravi Varma museum to be inaugurated on Sunday

Staff Correspondent

The Royal Netherlands Embassy has agreed to support it financially

Manipal: The Hasta Shilpa Trust is all set to launch its new project, Raja Ravi Varma Archival Museum, at its Heritage Village here on December 30. The grandson of Raja Ravi Varma, Rama Varma Sripathi Prasad, will formally launch it.

In a press release here on Monday, trust secretary Vijaynath Shenoy said that Raja Ravi Varma, a celebrated Indian painter of the 19th century, who hailed from Kerala, had carved a niche for himself in the modern and contemporary art movement in the country.

He was one of the first painters to adopt the European medium of oil painting successfully and consistently. His paintings emulated that Western style and his works received appreciation from the ruling British elite. He thus emerged as a prominent painter during the British colonial period whose work was characterised by a large degree of naturalism.

But it was the Indians who were impressed by Raja Ravi Varma’s paintings which not only employed the Western mode of depiction but also portrayed scenes and anecdotes from popular Indian mythology.

Realising the historical value of Raja Ravi Varma works and the potential to educate people through them, the trust acquired all the archival material connected with the printing process of the works of the painter with an objective of setting up an archival museum in his name.

The archival material now in the possession of the trust include the machineries used for printing, litho stones with the impressions of the artist’s works, packets of special colour ink powder made in Germany for colour production of the works, scores of original colour prints of paintings of varying sizes, sketches and drawings, printing accessories, work sheets, and account books, and other documents used at the Ravi Varma Press. These material will form the body and soul of the archival museum.

The trust is planning to house the age-old machineries and accessories, litho stones, original prints, including oleographs, besides several documents and other archival materials, all acquired from the Ravi Varma Press, in a building at the Heritage Village.

Though the trust wanted to take up this museum project in 2006, when the death centenary of Raja Ravi Varma was observed, it could not do so due to paucity of funds.

As the Royal Netherlands Embassy in New Delhi had come forward to support the project, the trust had initiated steps to set up this museum of unique character to pay tributes to the artist.

It was the interest evinced in this project by Muhammed Afzal, a culture-conscious native of Kannur in Kerala, who serves as Programme Officer in the embassy, that had resulted in the trust securing funding support for the implementation of its plan.

The trust hoped that the archival materials related to Raja Ravi Varma’s paintings and their printing process would generate a new interest among scholars and research students in studying the works of this painter, the release added.

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