The Gypsies of South India is one of the ten paintings sent by Raja Ravi Varma to the World's Columbian Exposition at Chicago in 1893. This painting depicts an impoverished gypsy woman singing as she plays a tambura (stringed musical instrument). On her lap is a baby asleep and oblivious to the harsh reality of life while a boy sits beside her. The girl seated on the floor looks desolate at the beyond, possibly in fear of what lies ahead. The painting is also called 'Poverty'.


  • Title: The Gypsies of South India (Poverty)
  • Creator: Raja Ravi Varma
  • Date Created: 1893
  • Location: India
  • Physical Dimensions: 120 x 76 cms
  • Type: Painting
  • Original Source: Sree Chitra Art Gallery, Thiruvananthapuram
  • Rights: Curatorial rights: The Ganesh Shivaswamy Foundation, Bengaluru
  • 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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