Although Ravi Varma was known as master portrait artist for the upper echelons of royal society in India, he achieved fame as a pioneer of popular culture, responsible for the mass dissemination of a new visual vocabulary through oleographs.
Here, Brahmarshi Vishvamitra is portrayed deep in the throes of meditation. His eyes are closed as he manipulates the prayer beads through his fingers, not noticing the dying embers of the fire. The background is free of much ornamentation, a vessel and some torn clothes all speak to the ascetic life he leads.


  • Title: Untitled (Swami Vishvamitra in Meditation)
  • Creator: Raja Ravi Varma
  • Creator Nationality: Indian
  • Date Created: 1897
  • Provenance: Collection of Fritz Schleicher. Collection of Mrs. Lotti Schleicher Singh
  • Subject Keywords: Raja Ravi Varma, Vishvamitra, Brahmarshi
  • Rights: Sotheby's New York
  • External Link: http://www.sothebys.com
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Labels and Inscriptions: Sotheby's New York
  • 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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