One of the pictures painted by Raja Ravi Varma in the last year of his life, it is possible these four portrait studies on a single canvas were painted for the Ravi Varma Press to be made into chromolithographs. It is known that Raja Ravi Varma painted two pictures on a single canvas and that these were used as exemplars for the chromolithographs. In Rupika Chawla, Raja Ravi Varma Painter of Colonial India, Ahmedabad, 2010, on p. 332 and 333 is one such example of two pictures on a single canvas (The Killing of Kamsa and an unfinished painting of a Youthful Krishna). The present painting incorporates four portrait studies on a single canvas


  • Title: Four Portrait Studies
  • Creator: Raja Ravi Varma
  • Date Created: 1906
  • Location: India
  • Physical Dimensions: 72 x 51 cms
  • Type: Painting
  • Original Source: Pundole's, Mumbai.
  • 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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