Ravi Varma was born into an aristocratic family of Kerala. He taught himself the intricacies of oil painting and the practices of European naturalism. ‘Woman Holding a Fruit’ shows Ravi Varma’s mastery over the idioms of a new visual language in India. In the naturalistic depiction of the young woman, Ravi Varma lyrically combines eroticism with innocence. His handling of colours – mostly soft pinks and browns – heightens the tenderness evoked in this painting.