Nagercoil Ammachi (Kalyani) was the wife of Ayilyam Tirunal. She was very popular and widely respected. Danish painter Theodore Jensen, who came to Travancore, declined to coach Ravi Varma, painted a portrait of the Maharajah and the Ammachi, but the young Ravi Varma pulled off a surprise by gifting the ruler a similar portrait, but much superior in quality, instantly landing into Jensen's bad books.


  • Title: Nagercoil Ammachi
  • Creator: Raja Ravi Varma
  • Creator Lifespan: 1848-04-29/1906-10-02
  • Creator Death Place: Kilimanoor, Kerala
  • Creator Birth Place: Kilimanoor, Kerala
  • Date Created: 1868
  • Location Created: Travancore, India
  • 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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