Damayanti is the daughter of Bhima, the king of Vidarbha. The legend of Damayanti is found in the Mahabharata, Vana-Parva, Chapters 52 to 79. At the same time, Nala was a prince born to Virasena, the king of Nishadha. The swans which came to the palace of Damayanti extolled praises for Nala and also told Nala of Damayanti’s extraordinary beauty. The messages of love being were being carried to and fro by the swans; Nala and Damayanti fell in love with each other. After the marriage of Nala and Damayanti, several events lead to their being exiled from the kingdom by Nala’s elder brother. They were compelled to lead their lives in a forest. Nala, thereafter abandoned Damayanti in the forest when she, in a helpless state was consumed by the snake. In this painting, Raja Ravi Varma depicts the scene of impending danger with the snake in the foreground.


  • Title: Damayanti Vanavas
  • Creator: Raja Ravi Varma
  • Date Created: 1894
  • Location: India
  • Physical Dimensions: 104.5 x 74.5 cms
  • Type: Painting
  • Original Source: Directorate of Museums and Archaeology, Government of Maharashtra; Shree Bhavani Museum and Library, Aundh, District Satara, Maharashtra.
  • Medium: Oil on Canvas
  • Creator's Lifetime: 1848-04-29/1906-10-02
  • Creator's Biography: Raja Ravi Varma (1848-1906) was a prolific Indian artist who is recognized for his resorting to the academic realistic style of painting. His portraits of English and Indian royalty and aristocracy were well received. His paintings on Hindu religious and mythological subjects and paintings from classical and literary sources were highly sought after even during his lifetime. He painted several copies of his works and this demand led to the suggestion to have his paintings printed in the form of oleographs. The Ravi Varma Fine Art Lithographic Press was established in Bombay (now Mumbai) and commenced operations in 1894. Many of Ravi Varma's paintings were printed as chromolithographs at this Press. These chromolithographs would have a tremendous impact on religion, society and aesthetics. They went on to democratize art leading to immortalize Ravi Varma in the minds of the people of the Indian subcontinent.

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