Raja Ravi Varma, the great Indian painter

Another chapter in the life of Raja Ravi Varma opened up when Sir T. Mahdava Rao, a former Dewan of the Maharja of Travancore, who was serving as an advisor of the Maharaja of Baroda, visited Trivandrum. This resulted in Ravi Varma getting a chance for a visit to Baroda where he lived for two years from 1888. He created 14 paintings there.  Ten of Ravi Varma’s paintings were exhibited in an international exhibition held in Chicago in 1893, in connection with a world convention of religions there. It was the same convention at which Swami Vivekananda delivered his historic speech on India and its religions.

Ravi Varma by then had become famous as a great artist from India. In the meanwhile, he was going ahead with his scheme for printing copies of his paintings to sell them at affordable prices. He set up an oliographic printing press in Bombay in 1894. As the cities of Bomaby and the neighboring Pune were in the grip of the contagious plague at that time, he closed down his printing press and sold out not only the press and its machines, but even many of his valuable paintings, more than 8o of them, at throw away prices.

The King of Udaypur, on hearing of Ravi Varma, invited him to his capital. Ravi Varma drew several paintings there. In 1904 he was given the contract of drawing the picture of Arthur Havlock, the then British Governor in Madras. In the same year, Ravi Varma was given the coveted honour of Kaiser-e-Hind Award.