When Ravi Varma painted ‘Hanuman’s Discourse’ he was still under the influence of the Tanjore style of painting, a school that he had closely studied during his residency at the Travancore court in Trivandrum. The ornate parabolic shaped crowns worn by gods and goddesses in Tanjore paintings find continuity in the crowns of Rama and his brother Lakshmana in this painting. Jewels of similar nature are repeated on the godly siblings in his later work titled ‘Sita Bhumipravesh’.
In this early work, the painter’s maturity to bringing both beauty and expression to faces is apparent. Within this small but tightly structured frame, all four personages contribute to the meaning of the narrative. As Hanuman reads from the palm leaves, Rama, who occupies the central position, explains and instructs, indicated by his teaching mudra, as it’s the central point of the painting.


  • Title: Hanuman's Discourse
  • Creator: Raja Ravi Varma
  • Creator Death Place: Kilimanoor, Kerala
  • Creator Birth Place: Kilimanoor, Kerala
  • Date Created: 1870
  • Physical Dimensions: 20.25 x 16.75
  • Original Source: Private Collection
  • Medium: Oil on Canvas
  • Art Form: Painting
  • Collection: Private Collection
  • About the Artist: Raja Ravi Varma (1848-1906), India’s foremost artist, who took art to the masses, hailed from Kilimanoor, in the erstwhile state of Travancore. From a very young age, Ravi Varma, was drawn towards art, imbibing techniques from his uncle and mentor Raja Raja Varma and his mother, Umayamba Bayi, a poet in her own right. Varma was much sought after by the Royals and owing to his popularity and reputation, his spectacular and richly-textured works were prolific. His realistic portrayals of contemporary figures and interpretations of religious and mythological figures fetched him instant and enduring success, lifting his standing in the art world. If the Royals and his countrymen were in awe of this great talent, the international world was spellbound by his imagination and creativity. He ensured that art would be accessible to all, through reproductions of his paintings which were made available, and affordable to everyone.

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