Raja Ravi Varma and Ravi Varma Press1930s

The Ganesh Shivaswamy Foundation

The Ganesh Shivaswamy Foundation
Bengaluru, India

LAKSHMI: Lakshmi is not merely a Goddess of wealth but the root of the Sanskrit word ‘Laksh’ means many things. It means a sign of beauty, a token of good fortune, a mark of royal power, luck, prosperity, well being, happiness, finesse, progeny, fertility etc. Lakshmi is therefore to be perceived as more than just a bringer of good fortune. A fine fragrance is Lakshmi, a delectable meal is Lakshmi and cleanliness is also Lakshmi.

The representations of Lakshmi go back to the 2nd Century BC being depicted on coins and seals. The most popular legend of her origin is as found in the Mahabharata, the Padma Purana, the Vishnu Purana and the Valmiki Ramayana. She is said to have emanated from the Ocean of Milk (Ksheera-sagar) when it was churned by the Gods and demons to extract the nectar of life (amrut).

This print from the Ravi Varma Press derived from a painting by Raja Ravi Varma depicts Lakshmi as standing on a lotus with four arms. The ancillary arms carry lotuses while the arms at the front are in the gestures of granting a boon (varada) and protection (abhaya). Lakshmi has been associated with elephants and horses. While horses (as stated in the Sri-suktam) depict royalty, elephants have over the ages symbolized royal splendor and power. It is also a symbol of agricultural fertility.There are two representations of Lakshmi by Raja Ravi Varma which were printed by the Ravi Varma Press. While this is the more popular representation, the other rare print is called Gaja-Gauri or Gaja-Lakshmi.


  • Title: Lakshmi
  • Creator: Raja Ravi Varma, Ravi Varma Press
  • Date Created: 1930s
  • Physical Dimensions: 35x70 cms
  • Provenance: The Hemamalini and Ganesh Shivaswamy Collection, Bengaluru.
  • Subject Keywords: Raja Ravi Varma, Hinduism, Gigapixel
  • Type: Chromolithograph
  • Rights: The Ganesh Shivaswamy Foundation, Bengaluru.
  • 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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